Louisville men’s basketball fought back multiple times from an early hole Saturday, but couldn’t pull it out in an 89-83 loss to NC State at the KFC Yum! Center.

The Cardinals (6-10, 1-3 ACC) fell into a 12-0 hole to start the game against the Wolfpack. They rallied to take the lead midway through the second half, but ultimately didn’t come up with enough stops down the stretch.

“We played a team that, I knew it was going to be hard to win the game,” UofL head coach Kenny Payne said. “They’re a good team, play hard, very good in press defense, got after us – 12-0 run to start the game. After that point when we settled down and we were the aggressors, I felt like. … Look we shot 47% from the field, 53% from 3, 76% from the free-throw line, we forced them into 15 turnovers. Why did we lose? You have to defend. If you don’t defend, you’re not wining – it’s that simple.”

NC State (12-4, 4-1) scored the first 12 points of the game over the opening four minutes.

That lead reached 44-30 with 1:17 left in the half, but Louisville scored the last five points of the frame to cut its deficit to nine.

After a basket by the Wolfpack to open the second half, the Cards went on a 9-0 run to cut it to two.

“When (Payne) called that timeout early, he just told us that we got all the jitterbugs out, so now we’re ready to go out there and play,” freshman wing Curtis Williams said. “Once we went back out there, things started flowing for us. Getting in the lane, getting what we wanted, that’s mostly it.”

Williams gave UofL a 55-54 lead with 11:54 to go with a 3-pointer. He later hit another 3 to tie the game at 58-all, but NC State answered both of his deep balls with their own 3s.

The big swing came with a 10-2 run by NC State that extended their lead back to 75-64 with under six minutes remaining.

The Wolfpack led 83-69 at the 2:18 mark before a furious rally by the Cardinals.

Louisville scored 11 unanswered to pull back within 83-80 after a basket by junior forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield with 52 seconds on the clock.

NC State’s DJ Horne countered with a three-point play, and after a 3 by UofL sophomore guard Skyy Clark again made it a one-possession game, Horne iced it with two free throws.

Horne led all scorers with 27 points in 35 minutes off the bench.

Redshirt sophomore guard/forward Mike James led the Cardinals with 20 points, reaching the 20-point mark for the third straight outing.

Williams scored 15 points with four 3-pointers, while freshman guard Ty-Laur Johnson added 14 points and five assists. Huntley-Hatfield tallied another double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.

The Cardinals will be on the road for two games next week, starting at North Carolina at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday in Chapel Hill, N.C. The game will air on ACC Network.

“I feel like we’re taking strides as a team,” James said. “We’re starting to play better offensively; sharing the ball, and knocking down shots. We’re just competing, so we took some stuff we did well from the Miami game, but we just got to clean up some stuff on the defensive end from this game and just carry that over to UNC and Wake Forest next week.”

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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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