A week ago, Louisville was atop the Atlantic Coast Conference and riding its longest winning streak in five seasons. Following a rough two games, it’s uncertain what to expect from the Cardinals at the moment.
Looking to avoid a season-high third consecutive defeat, 11th-ranked host Louisville aims to get back on track Wednesday night against struggling Syracuse.
Louisville (21-5, 12-3 ACC) had won 10 straight before being upset 64-58 last Wednesday at a Georgia Tech squad with a losing record. Things went from bad to worse for the Cardinals on Saturday, when they fell 77-62 at middling Clemson.
The back-to-back defeats dropped Louisville six spots in the Associated Press Top 25 and out of first place in the league. Louisville shot 49.2 percent during its previous five games and was among the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams in the nation at 40.4 percent overall. But in the two losses, the Cardinals made a combined 34.4 percent from the field and a miserable 9 of 51 from 3-point range against the Yellow Jackets and Tigers.
“The teams we’re playing are too together, and we’re not right now,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said during Saturday’s postgame media briefing.
Mack also told the Courier-Journal: “I know we’re not playing very well … I’ve been around it long enough to know we can dig ourselves out of it, but it’s going to be from our own resolve. I’ve got to do a better job with my team.”
That could mean putting struggling star Jordan Nwora (18.2 points, 7.3 rebounds per game) back in the starting lineup.
After totaling 43 points on 13-of-26 shooting in his previous two contests, Nwora scored a season-low two points on 1-of-6 shooting at Georgia Tech. Mack opted not to start Nwora at Clemson, and the junior went 1 of 5 and scored just five points. He shot 1 of 9 from 3-point range and totaled eight turnovers in the last two games.
Nwora was 3-for-13 for 11 points in Louisville’s 69-49 loss at Syracuse last season.
Though the Cardinals have dropped two straight to the Orange, they’re 14-1 at home this season and looking for a sixth straight league win there. Louisville has also won 26 straight home games against unranked opponents.
Syracuse (14-11, 7-7), meanwhile, has lost two in a row and four of the last five. Elijah Hughes (18.9 ppg) had 25 points and freshman Joe Girard (52 points in last two games) scored 22 at then-No. 8 Florida State on Saturday, but the Orange went 7 of 25 from beyond the arc and were outrebounded 47-29 during the 80-77 loss.
“It was a tremendous effort. It just got away at the end,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.
“We’ve been rebounding better, but the rebounding was the difference at the end of the game. And (Florida State) shot well from the 3, and we’re still not.”
The Orange have shot 26.1 percent from 3-point range over the last six games. Buddy Boeheim (15.6 ppg), shooting 39.1 percent from distance, missed all seven field-goal attempts Saturday to finish without a point and is 2 for 13 from 3 in the last two games.
Hughes and Boeheim combined for eight 3-pointers and 32 points in last season’s win over then-No. 18 Louisville. That’s one of Syracuse’s two victories in its last 11 games against Top 25 opponents. The other came at then-No. 18 Virginia in overtime last month.
–Field Level Media