EAST LANSING, Mich. - Unfortunately for Chris Mack, his season debut was not a triumphant one.
Back on the sidelines as head coach following his six-game suspension to start the year, Louisville came up just short in their first true road game of the season, falling 73-64 at No. 22 Michigan State Wednesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The Cardinals (5-2, 0-0 ACC) trailed by as much as 20 points, but thanks to 18 second half points from El Ellis, Louisville was able to trim the deficit to as little as eight in the final two minutes. The JUCO transfer guard finished with 22 points on the night, with Dre Davis and Malik Williams also in double figures at 15 and 10, respectively.
While the Spartans (6-2, 0-0 B1G) coughed the ball up 19 times, Louisville did so 16 times, and they out-shot the visiting Cardinals 46.9 percent to 41.0. The three-point line is where the game was won and lost, as Louisville was just 7-27 for 25.9 percent, but Michigan State shot a blazing 10-18 for 55.6 percent.
The game opened up extremely sloppy for both sides. Not only did each teams have just three field goals in the first seven minutes of the game, but the Cardinals and Spartans combined for 17 first half turnovers - many of which came on simple traveling calls.
In the final six minutes of first half, Michigan State started to find their rhythm, firing off a 9-0 run on three-straight threes to seize control of the lead. Thanks to six three-pointers in the period from the home squad, and Louisville shooting just 37.5 percent before halftime, the Spartans took a 36-28 lead into the locker room.
The Cardinals had a little bit of life to start the second half, starting the period with a 9-3 run to trim the deficit to just two, but it was all downhill after that. Michigan State's continuing three-point barrage, as well a multitude of missed shots for Louisville, then fueled a 24-6 Spartans run to extend out to their 20-point second half lead.
Next up, Louisville will stay on the road and head to Raleigh, N.C. to face NC State in their ACC opener. Tip-off against the Wolfpack is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 at 2:00 p.m. EST.
(Photo of Roosevelt Wheeler, Marcus Bingham, Jr.: Nick King - Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)
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