This was not the time to go into a slump. Not the time to play scared, timid. No.No. No. Virginia’s 63-47 pounding of Louisville at the KFC Yum Center, Saturday turned the “White Out” to into red faces.
Consider that Louisville shot 32.7 percent from the field, had 18 turnovers and a paltry point total. It was the worst loss in the six seasons at the Yum. The previous low point total was in a 52-46 loss to Drexel, December 14, 2010.
“You have to give Virginia a lot of credit, they played a great defensive game and executed beautifully on offense,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. “Unfortunately I saw this day coming.
“I am not too pleased with it. But I saw it was going to happen, not quite as bad as we played tonight,” said Pitino.
What Pitino was talking about was his teams play in a win at Virginia Tech 91-83, Wednesday. Pitino told WHAS radio anaylst Bob Valvano the Cardinals made 47 defensive mistakes against the Hokies.
Defense was poor, offense was worse. Damion Lee, Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider continued to drive the lane where the Cavaliers had a Delta Force; Anthony Gill, Isaiah Wilkins, Mike Tobey or Malcolm Brogdon were waiting. Louisville got very little in the paint.
The Cardinals had nine points with 5:58 left in the first-half. This Louisville team has had nine points in a 30 second span against some teams. Not Virginia.
The Cardinals biggest deficit was 47-24 with 10:14 in the second-half. The way Virginia (17-4, 6-3) plays there was no come back this day.
“It was our most complete game,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett. “We really challenged them on the front end and the back end to be as close as you can be. I told them you’ve got to get back set your defense every time.”
“Be as good as you can be,” said Bennett. “We said it has to be a one and done team. Be great with your block outs. Pursue, everybody gang rebound.”
Virginia did that and more. It made Louisville look as though it didn’t know how to run an offense.
“Defensively we made a statement to get back in transition,” said Cavaliers guard London Perrantes. “We wanted them to play against a set defense. We took good shots which didn’t lead to too many run outs,” said Perrantes.
“We (knew if) we take care of the ball and take good shots in the paint and knock down some shots outside it limits their run outs. When we limited those and we were able to get back on defense. It was harder for them,” said Perrantes.
Virginia came into the game as one of the top defensive teams in the country. The Cavaliers were 11th in scoring defense (61.9) and 17th in three-point field goal percentage (.399).
“It was one of our best performances (defensively),” said guard Malcolm Brogdon. “I don’t know if it was our best. I felt we were really good on defense. We put together a string of stops. We were able to impact their mental approach a little.”
Brogdon and Gill led the Cavaliers with 13 points each. Its offense clicked shooting 57.8 percent (20 of 45).
The only bright spots for the Cardinals were freshman. Deng Adel and Ray Spalding came off the bench to score 12 points each and grab a combined 12 rebounds, The the two were 10 of 19 from the field. The rest of the team six of 30.
“We just got our ass kicked at home in front of our fans and our city,” said Adel.
That should provide motivation for the Cardinals as No. 2 North Carolina (19-2, 8-0) leading the ACC visits Monday at 7 p.m.
North Carolina is fresh off an easy 89-62 win over visiting Boston College, Saturday. Brice Johnson led the Tar Heels with 17 points and 11 rebounds in winning their 12th straight.
Asked about his teams confidence heading into the UNC game Pitino said. “No. I don’t worry about that,” said Pitino. “I think they will be going against guys much more experienced and much more skilled in certain areas.
“But with that being said, we are going to give great effort,” said Pitino. Tonight, we got discouraged by a much better basketball team. There is no reason to get down in the dumps.”
The Cardinals have one day to prepare for the Tar Heels. Not an ideal situation. Atleast UNC has to travel.
“We’ve got the No. 2 team in the country Monday,” said Adel. “It’s all about staying positive and getting ready to bounce back.”
Freshman Donavon Mitchell had similier thoughts. “If we let this game define us, we’re going to struggle,” said Mitchell. “We have to keep brining it every day, like Virginia does. They bring it every possession.”
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