LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Even with Russ Smith in attendance to see his No. 2 jersey permanently retired and sent up into the rafters of the KFC Yum! Center, the Louisville men's basketball program still couldn't capture a victory for their former consensus All-American.
Hosting Notre Dame to kick off a rough stretch of conference play, the Cardinals were ran off their own floor by the visiting Fighting Irish, falling 82-70 Saturday.
Louisville (11-8, 5-4 ACC) held a seven point lead at halftime, but that advantage quickly evaporated, as Notre Dame (12-6, 5-2 ACC) out-scored the Cards 44-25 in the second half.
Despite a good offensive showing from Louisville, as the shot 47.5 percent from the floor and 10-21 on three-point attempts, their defense is what cost them. While the Cardinals did force 11 turnovers, they still allowed Notre Dame to shoot a blazing 63.3 percent, including 15-23 on threes.
Jarrod West led the Cardinals with a season-high 14 points - in spite of not scoring a single point after halftime - with Malik Williams right behind him with 11 points. Four Notre Dame players finished in double figures, led by 22 points from Dane Goodwin.
In true Russdiculous form, both teams started the game on a blazing hot shooting streak. Notre Dame connected on their first 10 field goal attempts of the game - including five three-pointers - while Louisville opened up their scoring efforts going 8-13 from the field and 4-7 on three-point attempts. In fact, both teams combined to shoot 57.1 percent from the field and connect on 16 threes in the first half
The perfect start from the Fighting Irish gave them an early advantage, but they eventually started to cool down, whereas the Cardinals kept going full steam ahead. Midway through the first half, Louisville used a 19-5 run to dictate control of the game, and take a 45-38 lead into the locker room.
However, Notre Dame was not going to roll over easily, as the Irish came out of halftime on a 10-2 run to put themselves right back in the game. After several lead changes through the middle segments of the half, the floodgates burst open against Louisville.
Thanks mainly to poor close outs on defense by the Cardinals that led to wide open shots on the perimeter - and everywhere else on the floor - the Irish fired off a 17-2 run to take command down the stretch, leading by as much as 14 in the final five minutes.
Next up, Louisville has a quick turnaround and is heading back on the road for a crucial ACC matchup against Virginia. Tip-off against the Cavaliers is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 24 at 7:00 p.m. EST.
(Photo of Prentiss Hubb, Noah Locke: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)
You can follow Louisville Report for future coverage by liking us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:
You can also follow Deputy Editor Matthew McGavic at @Matt_McGavic on Twitter