BOZICH | Louisville's NCAA Tournament case stalls in NC State loss
Louisville's chances of making the 2018 NCAA Tournament stalled again Saturday when the Cardinals lost at North Carolina State.
RALEIGH, N.C. (WDRB) – No time for pity parties. Not if the University of Louisville basketball team intended to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Lose a once in a millennium game in the final 0.9 seconds to Virginia 44 hours ago? Nobody cares, certainly not the rest of the dogged Atlantic Coast Conference.
The only option for David Padgett’s team at North Carolina State Saturday night was to grind as if their next pair of sneakers depended on.
The effort was determined. But it was not enough, not to overcome a flurry of turnovers and a defensive disappearance midway through the second half. N.C. State surged past the Cardinals over the final 12 minutes for a 76-69 victory at PNC Arena.
Now the Cardinals travel to the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn next week in need of at least a victory, and likely a pair, to earn a thumbs up from the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. They finished the ACC regular season 9-9 with an overall 19-12 record, diminished by four losses in their last five games.
If there were a category for coming close, Louisville would be near the national leaders. They lost winnable ACC road games to Clemson and Miami. I won't say another word about Virginia last Thursday. You can add this NC State game to that category.
Louisville could not overcome 15 turnovers, 11 in the first half. A game that featured 14 lead changes tilted toward the home team after a nine-point North Carolina spurt that pushed State ahead 58-49.
It was a Kentucky kid – Braxton Beverly of Hazard – who helped punish the Cardinals. He made a pair of shots from distance as well as a delicate floating drive over Ray Spalding as North Carolina State stretched its lead to 64-55 with six and a half minutes to play. Beverly, who signed with Ohio State and transferred here before the season, finished with 13 points.
Louisville was led by 20 points by Deng Adel. Quentin Snider and Ray Spalding both contributed a dozen.
Louisville interim athletic director Vince Tyra predicted a solid performance by Padgett’s team before the game.
“Mentally, these guys are really tough,” Tyra said.
The toughness showed early, especially by Adel. Some wondered how Adel would respond. He was the guy who traveled out of bounds with the ball when Louisville had a chance to ice the Virginia game. He was also the guy who defended the Cavaliers’ game-winning three.
Adel played on. He led the team on to the court prior to the game – and continued leading them in the box score in the first half. Adel made his first four field-goal attempts. Credit Adel with half of the Cardinals’ 22 points as they moved they surged to a four-point lead midway through the first half.
Turnovers were the issue from there. Although Louisville played solid defense, forcing the Wolfpack to miss 20 of their first 32 shots, the Cardinals trailed, 33-32, at halftime. It’s difficult to overcome 11 turnovers spaced over only 20 minutes. All five starters contributed at least one turnover.
Next for the Cardinals is a trip to New York City. The ACC Tournament tips Tuesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Louisville has never won a game in the ACC event. The Cards are 0-2. They were beaten by Duke in their opening game last season in Brooklyn.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.