PITTSBURGH - The Louisville men's basketball program, in a season that was already trending in the wrong direction, has hit a new low.
Traveling to the Steel City for their second matchup with Pitt in just 10 days, the Cardinals were unable to complete the regular season sweep over the Panthers, falling 65-53 at the Petersen Events Center Saturday.
Not only did the loss extend Louisville's (10-7, 4-3 ACC) losing streak to three straight - all coming against unranked opponents - but this loss came against the worst team in the league. Heading into the game, Pitt (7-10, 2-4 ACC) was ranked No. 177 according to KenPom and held a NET ranking of 191st. The Cardinals had previously downed the Panthers, 75-72, back on Jan. 5
Louisville, once again, had a rough day shooting the basketball, as they connected on just 33.3 percent of their field goal attempts and 25.0 percent of their threes. Their recent defensive woes also continued, as they allowed Pitt to shoot 43.6 percent from the field.
The Panthers dominated everywhere else, too. The Cards were not only out-rebounded 41-32, but made just 11 trips to the free throw line compared to Pitt's 19.
Malik Williams led the scoring efforts from Louisville, securing a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double, with Noah Locke and El Ellis each scoring 10. Pitt had four players finish in double figured, led by Jamarius Burton's 20 and John Hugley's 19.
Basketball is a game of runs, and that idiom was certainly the embodiment of the first half. Louisville had runs of 11-0 and 8-0, while Pitt had 14-3 and 11-2 over the game's first 20 minutes of action.
But calling them "runs" is generous, as they were more so droughts by the other team. In the first half, Louisville and Pitt combined to shoot just 19-52 from the field and 5-24 on three-point attempts with 14 turnovers. In fact, of the 66 total possessions before halftime, just 24 of them ended in scores.
If anyone had momentum heading into the locker room, it was Pitt. The Panthers ended the half making five fo their final nine field goal attempts, whereas the Cardinals connected on just one of their last 11 shots, with Pitt taking a 28-24 halftime advantage.
That slight momentum in favor of the Panthers fully materialized in the second half. Louisville kept pace with Pitt in the first few minutes of the second half, but eventually the wheels absolutely fell off.
Cold shooting from the Cardinals continued, while the Panthers were able to find their groove thanks to Hugley and Burton. Pitt's lead ballooned to as much as 16 points in the second half - their first double digit lead at any point of ACC play.
Next up, Louisville will return home to the KFC Yum! Center for a matchup against Boston College. Tip-off against the Eagles is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 7:00 p.m. EST.
(Photo of Malik Williams, Jamarius Burton: Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports)
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