Louisville blows halftime lead, abysmal season ends with loss to NC State in ACC Tournament

Mar 12, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Skyy Clark (55).
Mar 12, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Skyy Clark (55). / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After being decimated throughout the 2023-24 regular season, the Louisville Cardinals’ last chance was to win out in the ACC Tournament.

Louisville entered the tournament with the last-place seed and had to face the NC State Wolfpack. Avoiding an opening game against UNC or Duke boded well for the Cardinals but that’s about where their luck would run out.

The Cardinals shocked anyone and everyone watching the game as they finished the first half with a one-point lead over the Wolfpack. While it was just one point, NC State had been the sure favorite leading up to the game.

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield had closed out Louisville’s first half of scoring with a three-point jumper to cement his team’s lead.

However, as the second half unfolded, the Cardinals fell apart.

Despite Skyy Clark’s astonishing 36-point game, Louisville blew its one-point lead and ended up losing the opening game of the ACC Tournament to NC State.

At the end of regulation, the Cardinals had 16 turnovers, 23 personal fouls, and shot just 55.2 percent from the field.

On the other end of the court, NC State went 33 for 40 from the line and only gave up nine turnovers. Simply by out-hustling and playing a cleaner game than the Cardinals, the Wolfpack walked away with an easy second-half win.

Lousiville has not earned a bid to either the NIT or NCAA Tournament with its 8-24 overall record. Head coach Kenny Payne will just have to wait to see what his future holds.

NC State will move on to the Second Round of the ACC Tournament. The Wolfpack is set to face the seven-seed Syracuse Orange at 7 p.m. ET.