No. 1 Louisville joined a club it wanted no part of by losing to Texas Tech on Tuesday, following Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke as top-ranked teams to fall this season.
The Cardinals will attempt to recover as the other three have in what shapes up as a bounce-back home game against Eastern Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. Louisville has won the past 14 in the series.
“We’re going to have to grow from this and use it as a lesson learned,” said Louisville coach Chris Mack, whose frustration showed when he received a technical foul late in the 70-57 loss to the Red Raiders.
The defeat almost certainly will cost the Cardinals (9-1) their spot at the top of the polls next week, but it could be viewed as a minor bump in the road. And/or motivation.
Michigan State followed its rank-dropping loss to Kentucky with a 53-point victory over Binghamton, and Kentucky has won five straight since a home loss to Evansville. Duke has won three straight since its home loss to Stephen F. Austin, including a victory over Michigan State, the only one of the three former No. 1s to have lost since.
The Cardinals played their most inefficient game of the season against an aggressive Texas Tech defense. Louisville shot a season-low 34 percent from the floor while sinking only 3 of 17 3-point attempts, a season low in makes. The Cardinals went almost 10 minutes without a field goal in the first half, and their 18 turnovers were a season high.
“Early in the game, we took way too many ill-advised shots and made some poor decisions,” Mack said. “Because of that, I don’t think we ever felt comfortable enough in the offensive end.”
Louisville’s leading scorer, 6-foot-7 Jordan Nwora, will look to rebound from a season-low 14 points, as he shot 4 of 16 from the field. Nwora is producing 20.8 points per game, the only Cardinal averaging more than 11.
Mack saw plenty of areas that his veteran team — he starts three redshirt seniors and two juniors — can improve upon.
“We were disjointed on offense,” Mack said of the early struggles against Texas Tech. “We were taking some quick shots and turning the ball over in transition. They’re a very tough team on the defensive end and completely negated a lot of things we wanted to do.
“Our point guards and our guards in general have to play better.”
Cardinals point guards Darius Perry and Lamarr Kimble were a combined 2 of 9 from the field with two assists and seven turnovers, six by starter Perry. They also had trouble getting the ball inside to 6-foot-10 center Steven Enoch, who averages 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Eastern Kentucky (3-6) has not won in the sporadically played series against the Cardinals since Dec. 4, 1963, the last time game was played on their campus. Eastern Kentucky is located about 100 miles southeast of Louisville, in Richmond, Ky.
Freshman guard Jomaru Brown (17.3 points per game) and senior guard Ty Taylor II (12.9) are the only Colonels scoring in double figures. Taylor has made 24 of 63 3-point attempts and Brown has made 13 of 45.
The Colonels, who have lost four in a row, fell to then-No. 2 Kentucky 91-49 on Nov. 8.
“We were just shocked,” Colonels coach A.W. Hamilton said after the Wildcats bolted to a 46-25 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media