They can’t hurt me, Butters. I’m already dead.
For the 5,765th consecutive time, Louisville fought the good fight against Virginia, gave fans hope at multiple points that this time might be different, and then watched as the Cavaliers made all the plays necessary to beat the Cardinals for the ninth straight time.
With 5:34 to play, Louisville — after fighting back from multiple runs where it appeared Virginia had taken control of the game — held a 62-61 lead. UVA responded the way it typically does in these situations. Ty Jerome made a pair of free-throws, Jay Huff stuck an open three, and Jerome connected on a jumper. Just like that, the Hoos led by six and were never really threatened again.
U of L also responded to holding a narrow lead with under 6 to play the way it has too many times. The Cardinals missed nine of their final 11 from the shots and turned the ball over on two key possessions to shore up yet another defeat in Charlottesville.
Jordan Nwora led four Louisville players in double figures with 19 points. Malik Williams (12), Christen Cunningham (10) and Dwayne Sutton (10) joined him. Jerome led Virginia with a game-high 24 points and a game-high six assists.
Overall, it’s hard for me to be upset about this effort. The lack of poise down the stretch is frustrating, but the team fought tooth and nail for 40 minutes against a team who hasn’t lost to anyone other than a full strength Duke, and ultimately lost by 5 in a game where it was projected to lose by 14. The primary concerns about this team moving forward are the same as they were 24 hours ago. That effort and motivation didn’t join the list following today’s performance is ... encouraging? Maybe that’s too strong, but it still beats the alternative.
The Cards will now turn their focus to the ACC tournament, where they’ll be the No. 7 seed. Louisville will open its postseason at 7 p.m. on Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday night’s game between No. 10 Georgia Tech and No. 15 Notre Dame.
Win the Wednesday game, take you best shot against Duke or North Carolina on Thursday, hope for a seed above 8 and a favorable matchup two Sundays from now.