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Louisville Falls to NC State in ACC Tournament Opener

The Cardinals end their season with a record of 8-24.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The 2023-24 season for the Louisville men's basketball program is now over.

Taking on NC State in the first round of the ACC Tournament, the 15th-seeded Cardinals were unable to pull off an upset against the 10th-seeded Wolfpack, falling 92-85 on Tuesday at Capital One Arena.

Louisville ends their second season under head Kenny Payne with an overall record of 8-24 and 3-17 during regular season conference play. The Cardinals clinch back-to-back 25-loss seasons for the first time in their 110-year history.

The loss came in spite of a tremendous performance from guard Skyy Clark. He scored a career-high 36 points, shooting 12-of-17 from the field, 7-of-9 on three-point attempts and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. It was the most points by a Cardinals in a conference tournament game since Russ Smith had 42 against Houston on Mar. 14, 2014.

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield also finished with 17 points, while Ty-Laur Johnson has 13 points. NC State had five players crack double figures, led by 25 points from Casey Morsell.

Louisville had the better shooting afternoon, going 55.2 percent from the field and 10-of-18 on three-pointers, compared to NC State's 52.9 percent and 7-of-19 outing.

However, the deciding factor in game were turnovers and free throws. The Cardinals committed 16 turnovers that led to 22 points on the other end, while the Wolfpack had only nine turnovers for 12 points of them. NC State also took advantage of multiple trips to the free throw line, going 33-of-40 while Louisville was just 11-for-11.

Defense was purely optional in the first half from the nation's capital. Louisville shot 18-of-27 from the field and 6-of-9 on three point attempts - mainly from Clark - during the first half, while NC State was 17-of-29 and 3-of-10, respectively.

What mainly dictated the swings in momentum during the first half was ball movement. Louisville was doing a good job in area to start the game, putting up four assists to two turnovers in the first seven minutes, putting them up by as much as 12.

But eventually, NC State started to settle in, and ball movement for Louisville took a dramatic step backwards. Over the final 13 minutes of the period, the Cardinals committed seven turnovers and notched just two assists, allowing the Wolfpack claw back in the game. Despite taking a commanding 23-11 early lead, the held just a 46-45 advantage at halftime.

The cascade of turnovers for Louisville carried into the early goings of the second half, as they coughed the ball up four times over the first 4:30 of the period. It fueled a 12-4 run by NC State right out of the locker room to put the Cardinals down by as much as seven.

Louisville continued to be the hotter shooting team in the second half, but NC State - who shot 25-of-30 at the free throw line in the period - continued using their proficiency at the charity stripe to maintain a one- to two-possession lead for most of the half. The Cardinals were able to tie the game with 4:50 left, but the Wolfpack end the game on a 19-10 run to seal the game and end Louisville's season.

(Photo of Skyy Clark: Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports)

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