Louisville basketball: Cards can’t answer the bell in UNC rematch

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 12: Head coach Chris Mack of the Louisville Cardinals directs his team against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of their game at the Dean Smith Center on January 12, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 12: Head coach Chris Mack of the Louisville Cardinals directs his team against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of their game at the Dean Smith Center on January 12, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

In was another busy week in the ACC for Louisville basketball. A road trip down to Wake Forest and round 2 of the heavyweight fight with North Carolina at home in the YUM Center.

First things first…Wake Forest is really bad at basketball. I fully expected Louisville basketball to go down to Wake and hand the fighting Danny Manning’s a knockout blow. I did not expect the absolute beat down the Cards handed Wake. There really is not much to discuss about the Demon Deacons as it was never really a game at all.

Nwora continued his streak of big time scoring and not a single Wake player had a positive +/- for the game. Louisville shot 52% and 42% from three and if the Cards are knocking down triples at that rate they will be in the game against anyone.

Then the hype started. The entire team started posting mysterious photos on social media with a boxing theme and everyone quickly put the pieces together that The Greatest of All Time was going to be involved in some way.

AD Vince Tyra also had hinted that you would want to be in your seats early for a special intro and immediately this became a must have ticket in the city.  When the white out / Ali themed uniforms were shown off via social media, Louisville Twitter nearly exploded with excitement.

Game day finally arrived and YUM was filled with Card Nation and saw a very long first half as Louisville came out as the flattest we have witnessed them play since probably the Kentucky game. UNC went into halftime with a 44-28 lead and the narrative to me turned to just start limiting their second looks and attempt to make this look respectable because the 16 point lead felt more like 26 after watching that first half. Louisville mustered 36% shooting an only 25% on 3-12 shooting from beyond the arch.

In the second half Dwayne Sutton really put the Cards on his back, at one point knocking down 4 straight three point shots to pull Louisville within 9 but UNC always bounced back and extended the lead.

Credit UNC’s defense for really disrupting the Cards offensive flow. The overplaying, in your face defense Carolina played really limited anything Louisville wanted to do on the offensive end of the court.

Catching a big right hook from Carolina would always hurt but with all the Ali themed hyped pumped into this rematch it hurt even more when the Cards hit the mat and could not answer that 10 count. I consider Ali one of my heroes and I obviously am a big enough Cardinals fan to spend my free time writing these articles and I am fur the continued relationship between the Ali family and the university. Ali loved Louisville. Louisville loves Ali so this is a match made in heaven.

The Good Times:

  •  Taking care of business against Wake Forest was amazing. A blow out win is always a much better time than showing up flat a taking an awful loss. Nwora led the way again with 20 points followed by 17 from from Sutton, 13 for Malik, and 12 for our man McMahon.
  • The biggest highlight of the day was former Cardinal Chinau Onuaku showing up in the stands with that iced out dunking bird drip.


  • Mr. Dependable Dwayne Sutton continued to show out. 17 points & 10 rebounds against Wake followed by a team high 19 points and 8 rebounds against North Carolina, and really out the team on his back to pull the Cards to within 10 before the final bell rang.
  • Quick shout out to the Louisville Women’s team for defeating UConn this week and also shout out to the 17,023 Cardinal faithful that packed YUM making it the largest women’s crowd anywhere all season long.
  • Khwan Fore continues to be a godsend in the form of a grad transfer that has really stepped up to make sure the Cards are getting some productivity from the shooting guard spot.

While the outcome was not what anyone wanted those whiteout Ali jerseys are by far my most favorite alternate jerseys we have had in recent memory if not all time. I understand why they will more than likely no be available for purchase but man I would quickly reverse my stance on adult (non athlete) man buying and wearing a jersey.

The Not so Good Times:

  • Losing the Ali themed games just sucks. Sometimes I wish we broke out these special uniforms for games played against a team like Wake Forest.
  • It just felt like UNC was tougher than Louisville on Saturday. From the time the tip off went into the air Carolina played with a chip on their shoulder and wanted to revenge the daggum beat down Louisville gave them at home.
  • Rebounding was a major part in Louisville falling to UNC. The Cards not only lost the game but also the battle on the glass 49-32 and 18 of UNC’s 49 were offensive rebounds that led to 18 points.
  • The Carolina game was on Groundhogs Day and Bill Murray was not in house. Probably for the best because if my memory serves me right UL is currently 1-2 with Murray in attendance. Also, I was not in the YUM and had Bill been there and I missed my chance at my own Bill Murray story.

End of the day before the season started most had Louisville losing both meetings with North Carolina so to have split them 1-1 with the possibility of breaking the tie in the ACC Tournament is just a testament at how Chris Mack has this Louisville team overachieving in his first year. A year where Louisville was picked to finish 11th in the ACC and is currently sitting tied for third in the league with a Virginia Tech team that Louisville matches up with on Monday night. All in all this past week going 1-1 in the league still has Louisville right in the mix atop the league with a pretty tough week ahead.

Monday night the Cards match up with a top 15 team in Virginia Tech that is coming off beating NC State pretty handily in the lowest scoring game I can remember. Then a Saturday meeting with another Top 25 ranked team in FSU.

Next. Who is Chris Mack and Louisville basketball targeting in 2020?. dark

Next week could end up being titled Charlie’s Bad Times as UL could easily go 0-2 next week and that would not be a good start to a February that includes playing Duke, Virginia, and an overachieving Syracuse team. We need our Cards to take care of business this week and steal a few of these that they “shouldn’t” win.

Until next week send any questions or comments to me over on twitter @_CharlieThomas L’s Up and Go Cards!