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    Louisville Loses a Hearbreaker at the Very End 72-71 to North Carolina
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    Not that they haven’t already had important games on their schedule but when the fifth ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (14-2, 2-1) traveled to the Dean Smith Center, also known as the Dean Dome, in Chapel Hill to take on the 18th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (12-4, 2-1). The Cards left the game on the short end of the 72-71 score.

    The stakes go up even further because it’s the first time the two teams have met as conference rivals. After the Clemson game, Coach Rick Pitino said that he’s concerned that his players don’t understand ACC basketball. This would be the game to show them what the Atlantic Coast Conference will be about for the remainder of the season.

    The Cards come into the game after two career defining games from point guard Chris Jones where he scored 22 in each game and single handedly kept his team in the game at Wake Forest. He poured his heart into the game, too, and finished with 19 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

    Terry Rozier made his presence known as well. He’s a Cardinal big gun that has come up big all  year. North Carolina never really came up with an answer for the next level-bound guard. Whenever the ball came to him, a made show was always a possibility. He put in 25 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

    The intensity was on from the opening tip with the Tar Heels taking advantage of defensive miscommunications to get crowd pleasing slam dunks. However, Louisville stayed in it with solid play without the flash. Both teams hunkered down for a long game.

    The North Carolina strong suit was rebounding, particularly on the offensive glass where they have themselves significant second chance points. They also got production from their bench where the Cards have struggled of late.

    The other issue for Louisville that Coach Pitino pointed out after the Clemson game is the pick and roll. Every single Cardinal can set good screens, but the ball handler doesn’t utilize it closely enough and, as a result, the defender doesn’t get picked and the dribbler isn’t open.

    The score was tied 34-34 at halftime.

    After the break, the Cards went on an 11-2 run that gave them a 9 point lead. They would extend that with the adjustments Pitino made in the locker room. The rebounding toughened up, the defenders didn’t give up open shots and the offense developed patience.

    One of the more pleasant surprises came in the form of Chinanu Onuaku. Saying that he blocked shots was expected. But he also added to on the offensive end. He would call for the ball and then knock down shots close to the rim, which is what you want your center to do. Nanu pulled in 8 rebounds to go along with 8 points.

    Carolina was able to whittle into the lead late in the game. At 38.1 seconds, they went up by 1 at 70-69. Rozier hit a jumper to put Louisville up by one with 23.9 seconds to play. Then Marcus Page hit a shot to win it for the Tar Heels.

    Louisville wins the game if bench players Quentin Snider, Mangok Mathiang, Anas Mahmoud or Shaqquan Aaron had added just one field goal.

    Just one.

    Photo by: Tim Girton/

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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