Memories of the last time the University of Louisville met North Carolina in basketball still haunt some UofL players as they prepare for Saturday’s game at Chapel Hill, N.C. One of those games they would rather forget, but refusing to go away.
— Montrezl Harrell was relegated to being a bystander in that event, playing only 25 minutes before fouling out. He had five points and five rebounds.
— Wayne Blackshear was there but invisible with zero points and zero rebounds in 17 minutes.
— Terry Rozier played only six minutes, missing all four of his field goal attempts and both of his free throws. No rebounds either.
— Chris Jones had 20 points but only one assist.
Painful to watch, even with Russ Smith scoring 36 points. That was against a North Carolina team that finished the season with a 24-10 won-lost record and finished fifth with a 13-5 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Tar Heels are 11-4 entering Saturday’s game, having won five of their last six games. They are led by with junior guard Marcus Paige, averaging 13.4 points points per games and sophomore forward Kennedy Meeks with a 12.8 scoring pace. But during a recent five-game win streak, they had five different leading scorers.
Louisville is 13-1 and ranked fifth in the both national polls, but struggled in conference wins against Wake Forest and Clemson. North Carolina represents the the biggest challenge thus far, one which Coach Rick Pitino have had in mind during a recent news conference.
“We’re taking baby steps and improving. We’re going to have a lot of bumps in the road, but that doesn’t concern me. Bumps are part of every season.”
UofL is 3-9 all-time against North Carolina, losing five of last six. The last time Louisville beat the Tar Heels was during Denny Crum’s tenure in 1997, a 97-80 decision at Freedom Hall.
However, the only game that matters to this crop of Cardinals is Saturday’s showdown.