May be a while before University of Louisville basketball plays another Kentucky team so lacking in talent as was so evident on Saturday. But that’s irrelevant because UofL never posed a serious threat to the Wildcats.
Choose a reason — lack of focus, no consistency, little confidence, an absence of leadership, no visible will to win — any of these qualities were in evidence in a 71-58 loss to Kentucky. No perceived benefit either from the boisterous UofL diehards in the crowd of 20,882 at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday.
A UofL team able to connect on only five of 20 three-point field goal attempts. Not much better on close-up attempts, unable to finish, blowing uncontested shots at times. Seemingly content to just hang around, spotting UK 10-point-plus leads, lacking the ability to hit two or three shots in a row.
Credit Coach Chris Mack for keeping his team as close as it was, avoiding a second straight blowout to Kentucky. The offensive schemes were good, the 1-3-1 zone offense could have been effective. But not without booster shots of mental toughness and consistent focus.
If there was a bright spot, it was the play of Christen Cunningham, who almost singlehandedly kept UofL within striking distance in the first half. The 6-foot-2 graduate transfer from Samford University had three of Louisville’s five 3-point shots and a team-leading 20 points.
Jordan Nwora, the team’s leading scorer, accumulated 17 points but teammates Dwayne Sutton and Darius Perry managed only seven points between them. Sutton never took a shot during the first 20 minutes. Ryan McMahon couldn’t possibly get open, winding with two free throws.
Not a blowout at least, but not all that encouraging. Not with UofL hosting Miami next Sunday in the first game of a grueling ACC schedule.
An early wakeup call, a reminder for Louisville fans to keep expectations in check for the rest of the season. Chris Mack’s work has only just begun.
Slideshow courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton.