Louisville basketball: Three positives from loss to Georgia Tech

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Louisville basketball took its fourth loss of the season in a frustrating wire-to-wire loss at Georgia Tech on Wednesday night. Here are three positive takeaways.

Louisville basketball took what will go down as one of the more frustrating losses of the Chris Mack era on Wednesday in a 64-58 loss at Georgia Tech.

There were so many just dumb things that happened in this game that we aren’t even going to attempt to chronicle them in this space.

The bottom line in Louisville now has two losses in conference play, and one more slip-up could ultimately cost the Cards an ACC regular-season title in a year where the conference is historically weak.

It was a frustrating game to sit through for so many reasons, but we want to focus on the positives and throw the rest away, then hope that Mack and company do the same heading into Saturday’s rematch at Clemson.

Let’s get right to it.

Louisville needed a wake-up call

You never like to learn through losses, but this game felt like it really needed to end the way it did.

So often this season, the narrative at the end of the game has been that the Cardinals just find a way to win.

Losses to Texas Tech, Kentucky, and Florida State can simply be written off as not taking advantage of opportunities against quality opponents. Against a Georgia Tech squad who is sub-.500 however, there are no excuses.

Louisville’s prolific shooting down the stretch in games is the mark of a senior-laden team. With that said, it’s important against lesser teams to find other ways to win. The Cardinals allowed the Yellow Jackets to get out to a 12-2 lead prior to the first TV timeout and then tried to shoot their way back into the game.

It wasn’t until midway through the second half when the Cardinals went to a zone defense that the intensity began to ratchet up on the defensive end.

Even then, Louisville was unable to take advantage of Georgia Tech foul trouble and scoring droughts.

Louisville needed this loss as a wake-up call. Mack lamented the fact that the Cardinals cannot simply sleepwalk their way through conference play and expect to win after previous close games.

You just seemed to see in the body language that Louisville was just waiting for someone to step up and make a play or two, but the stops never came and the clutch shots never fell.

The bottom line is you cannot get down by 10-plus on the road against an ACC squad and expect to keep making massive comebacks.

Louisville survived a slugfest at Pitt in overtime. The Cardinals found a way to win at Notre Dame. They rode a hot-shooting Jordan Nwora and Ryan McMahon to victories over Boston College and NC State. In all of those games, the Cardinals weren’t stellar on defense, they weren’t super crisp on offense, and they didn’t play complete 40-minute games. They simply used stretches where they were just the better team and that was good enough to put them over the top.

That didn’t happen against Georgia Tech. Nwora was so off on defense that Mack kept him out of the game completely for stretches. McMahon, Sutton, and Williams all threw up airballs. Hustle plays all went the way of the Yellow Jackets. Layups were missed, free throws were clanked, and poor decisions were made throughout.

Similar things happened in those previous road wins, and that’s a bad habit to fall back on.

When championship teams are off, it should take a complete team effort on both ends of the floor to find a way to win.

When shots aren’t falling in the ACC or NCAA tournaments, Louisville cannot look to one player to save its season. It’s important that the Cardinals learn that the hard way.

While the loss is tough to swallow, better Louisville teams than this lost to worst teams than Georgia Tech. What’s important is that they learn and grow from it and take steps to prevent it from happening again.

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