No. 5 ranked Louisville traveled to Chapel Hill to take on the No. 18 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in
what was sure to be an exciting game. It did not fail on any level.
Louisville’s 72 -71 loss to was in Rick Pitino’s words, “about as bad a loss as we’ve had since I’ve been
here.” He did go on to say, “But I thought our guys played great the whole night.”
The game went back and forth with the Tar Heels pulling it out in the end thanks to junior All-American
candidate Marcus Paige. He struggled for most of the game making only 3 of his first 11 shots, but it
was his high-arching shot over the outstretched hands of Terry Rozier that put UNC up for good with
nine seconds to play 72 – 71. Paige finished with 10 points.
Louisville had two more opportunities to win, but could not put the ball in the basket. Rozier took the
in-bounds pass and the ball eventually found its way to Wayne Blackshear in the corner for an open
three-pointer for the win. Blackshear missed the open three and Rozier rebounded the miss and the put
up an off-balance shot that was off the mark.
Rick Pitino described what Louisville’s plan of attack, “We were trying to trap it. But we had a 6’10 guy
who got off his feet and he made a very difficult shot. But he makes that shot going to his left. We
should have trapped it, but Terry couldn’t get over the screen in time. But Nanu did the exact same thing
that he’s supposed to.”
As heartbreaking of a loss as this was, the Cardinals played solid on the road and came away with a
positive outlook for the rest of the season.
Starting guards, Chris Jones and Rozier, continue to show why they are considered one of the best
backcourts in the country. Jones played his third consecutive solid game finishing with 19 points, 5
assists, and 4 rebounds. The most encouraging aspect of Jones’ game has been his improved shooting
over the last three games. He was 8 – 12 against UNC and is 21 – 42 in the past three games. In those
three games he is averaging 21 points.
Rozier has played solid for most of the season. His performance against UNC showed why Pitino thinks
this could be his last season in a Cardinals’ uniform. Rozier scored 25 points, grabbed 5 rebounds,
dished out 5 assists, and played terrific defense finishing with 3 steals.
The center position has been a problem spot for U of L all season with Chinanu Onuaku, Mangok
Mathiang, and Anas Mahmoud all getting multiple starts. Onuaku started against UNC and played one
of his better games of the season. “Chinanu played terrific.” Pitino said. Onuaku finished with 8 points
and 8 rebounds.
Junior forward Montrezl Harrell struggled once again against taller competition. Just as he did against
Kentucky’s towering frontline, he struggled to get anything easy inside. He finished with nine points and
For U of L to become a much better team they are going to need some help from their bench. Against
UNC, the bench gave the Cardinals no points. Mangok Mathiang was the only bench player that
contributed anything at all. He finished with 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
Louisville’s record is now 14 – 2. They must have a short memory as they return to the KFC Yum Center
Tuesday night against Virginia Tech. Then comes the big one as Duke comes to the Yum Center for a
heavyweight bout next Saturday.