In a pivotal matchup to decide their seeding in the ACC tournament, Louisville basketball was bested by Virginia in what felt like a very winnable game for the Cardinals.
It was one of Carlik Jones‘s worst performances of the year (2-for-15 from the field) on Senior Night in Louisville. While he was able to get in to the lane at times, Virginia gave him nothing easy inside on his attack. A respectable second half performance offensively from the team never saw Jones catch on.
Sophomore guard David Johnson led all Louisville scorers with 14 points on just 6-of-17 shooting. Only six Cardinals played more than five minutes in this game. Celebrated senior Charles Minlend did not see the floor.
The turning point of the game came midway through the second half. Redshirt freshman forward Jae’Lyn Withers completed an and-one jam that had the limited crowd in the KFC Yum! Center buzzing. Then, he came back down the floor to knock down a three to cut the game to just a four-point deficit.
A few moments later, Withers missed three straight free throws and fouled a three-point shooter on the other end. A six-point swing. From there, it felt like the game had taken a horrible turn away from the Cardinals from a momentum standpoint.
After another fantastic glimpse of Withers’ talent, you saw his inconsistencies come out down the stretch. Frankly, it cost Louisville in a lot of ways from winning this game.
Virginia’s Sam Hauser, who was red-hot all day long, exited the game along with forward Jay Huff shortly after this sequence. With that in mind, you would figure Louisville would make another push. But it was the Cavaliers closing it out as they subsequently went on a 11-2 run after they went to the bench.
That period effectively ended the game.
Louisville loses chance at the double-bye opportunity
The right to play as the three-seed in the ACC tournament was on the line in this game. Had Louisville won, they would have enjoyed a double-bye opportunity heading to championship week.
Now, they’ll be playing on day two of the tournament with no seeding yet solidified.
The Cardinals are now just 2-11 against the Cavaliers since joining the conference back in 2015. Despite a win last year under head coach Chris Mack’s leadership, they continue to struggle against nobody more than Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers.
Next stop, Greensboro, North Carolina. A date in the ACC tournament on Wednesday, Mar. 10 awaits where the Cardinals will likely need one win in the tournament in order to solidify their spot in Indiana for March Madness.