LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A scoring drought at a crucial time kept Louisville men’s basketball from completing a comeback in a 71-54 loss to Virginia Tech on Senior Night at the KFC Yum! Center.

The Cardinals (4-26, 2-17 ACC) cut a double-digit deficit to three with 9:08 remaining, but then allowed the Hokies to go on a 14-0 run that put the game out of reach.

“Simply put, they had 24 points off second-chance points,” UofL head coach Kenny Payne said. “They had 18 points off turnovers. Who are you going to beat? Who are you going to beat? Seventeen of those 24 second-chance points came in the second half. We had numerous guys that did not come to play on Senior Night – the last game of the year. I don’t know what to say to that – disappointed, discouraged, hurt, there are no words that can describe what it feels like to be part of something where you watch guys not come to fight for their teammates or their fan base on the last regular season game of the year. That is disappointing.”

Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-12) took control in the first half with a 14-2 run that opened up a 20-10 lead.

The Cardinals’ deficit was 35-27 at halftime, but it quickly reached double figures as the Hokies scored the first two baskets of the second half.

Back-to-back 3s from senior guard El Ellis and junior forward JJ Traynor – UofL’s only two 3-pointers of the night – trimmed Virginia Tech’s lead to 50-47.

But the Hokies answered with a 3 off multiple offensive rebounds, a common theme in the second half as they ultimately racked up 18 offensive boards and 24 second-chance points.

“I think we were guarding their actions pretty well and then just offensive rebounding, it let out to a 3,” Traynor said. “Then, the next play down, Justyn Mutts hit a three. I think they were up nine, after that, they got going. We just couldn’t get our defense going.”

Louisville scored seven points over the game’s final nine minutes. The Cardinals committed 12 turnovers, which turned into an 18 Virginia Tech points and helped the Hokies offset a 37.5% shooting night.

Grant Basile led Virginia Tech with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Ellis and redshirt freshman guard/forward Mike James had 14 points each for Louisville. Traynor added nine points, six rebounds and two blocks.

The Cardinals conclude the regular season at No. 13/12 Virginia at 2 p.m. ET Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. The game will air on ESPN2.

“If you’ve got love for the game, you won’t stop or quit no matter the circumstance,” James said. “If you love the game of basketball, you’re going to keep showing up every day no matter how hard it gets, no matter how bad things get. We just got to keep pushing all the way to the end and see how far we go.”

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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