Louisville Basketball seemed like it was back, at least for a few hours
The Louisville Cardinals were heavy underdogs in the first game of the Empire Classic in Madison Square Garden against #19 Texas. The Cards came into the game as -17.5 point underdogs, but for a full 40 minutes Louisville gave Texas their best shot and they should have won. Texas’s largest lead of the game was 9, but that was early in the game and was relatively a 5 point game or less for most of the game.
Brandon Huntley-Hatfield had his best performance of the season with 11 points and 9 rebounds, and proved he is one of the best players on the team. Hatfield and Dennis Evans were great on the boards yesterday, and they were single handedly out rebounding Texas most of the night. However, when Evans and Hatfield fouled out in crunch time, Texas started to eat away on the glass. The Longhorns shot some important free throws down the stretch and when they missed the shots they seemed to always find a way to get the rebound for an extra possession.
Skyy Clark also had a great game, as he had 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 back to back threes to give the Cardinals the lead late. When it came for the Longhorns last possession with 7 seconds left, Max Abmas chucked up a fadeaway with 0.4 seconds left, and Texas won the game 81-80. Skyy Clark did a great job guarding him but it was just a tough shot to make and he made it.
While it is heartbreaking to see Louisville lose this way, it is very encouraging to see them play up to competition and not get blown out like last year. This team has too much talent to not play good basketball and they proved it today against Texas. If Kenny Payne can keep this team to play this type of basketball for the rest of the season, then who knows what the Cardinals can accomplish.