(Photo of Carlik Jones: Jeffrey C. Ridley via the Atlantic Coast Conference)
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Heading down to South Florida for the back end of a two-game road trip, the Louisville men's basketball program saw all their in-conference momentum come to a screeching halt, as they fell to Miami 78-72 for their first loss in Atlantic Coast Conference play this season.
The No. 16 Cardinals (9-2, 4-1 ACC) had their worst outside shooting nights of the season. While they shot 45.0% from the field, they connected on just 3 of their 21 three-point attempts, including missing their first eleven.
Despite being short five players, including Preseason All-ACC First Team selection Chris Lykes, Miami not only shot better at 49.2%, but connected on five more three-pointers than Louisville. They were also powered by Isaiah Wong's career-high 30 points, and a +8 rebounding margin for the game.
As for Louisville, they were led by a season-high 25 points from Carlik Jones, and a bounce-back game from Jae'Lyn Withers in which he had an 18 point, 11 rebound double-double.
Louisville has been subject to some slow starts during the course of the season, but their first half against the Canes was arguably their worst twenty minutes of basketball all year long. The Cardinals at-times stagnant offense came back in full force, as they connected on just 10 of their 28 first half field goals, including 0-10 on three-pointers.
Even worse, the uninspiring offense translated into lethargic defense. While Miami didn't shoot much better, connecting on 15 of their 34 first half shots and going 2-10 from beyond the arc, they dominated down low. A +10 rebounding margin during the first half, along with 20 first half points in the paint, and the Canes wound up taking a 33-21 lead into halftime.
However, the second half was a much different story for the Cardinals. Thanks primarily to Withers & Davis, Louisville went on a 23-12 run in the second half's first seven minutes to pull within a single point. Unfortunately, that would be as close as Louisville got. Jones & Quinn Slazinski made things interesting down the stretch, but the Canes were able to hold off the Cards just long enough for the win.
Next up for Louisville, they will return home to the KFC Yum! Center and host Miami's Sunshine State counterparts in the Florida State Seminoles. Tipoff is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 18 at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.
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