The Louisville Cardinals are no longer unbeaten after losing 85-48 on the road at Wisconsin Saturday. Louisville falls to 4-1. Wisconsin is now 6-1 overall.
Wisconsin raced out to a 25-4 lead through the first 11 minutes and did not look back from there. Louisville was down 44-18 at halftime, its largest halftime deficit in program history. Wisconsin led by as many as 42 in the second half and held a lead the entire game.
Louisville only shot 36.2 from the field and turned it over 18 times. Wisconsin shot 54.4 percent, including 16 made three pointers. The Badgers had 22 assists on only 10 turnovers. Altogether, Wisconsin beat Louisville in just about every major statistical category.
This was a game that Louisville was probably going to lose all along. The team had not played in 18 games and had just resumed practice this week. Nearly the entire squad contracted the virus according to Coach Mack and some experienced symptoms that take time to fully recover from. Carlik Jones, Louisville’s leading scorer, was ruled out about an hour before tipoff because he had not been cleared to return from COVID.
The team was going to be rusty regardless of who was available, but Louisville was forced to play entirely with freshmen and sophomores against a team that starts five seniors. Wisconsin got out to a huge lead and Louisville looked like a young team that had no idea how to try and come back. Despite Wisconsin’s three-point barrage, Louisville did okay defensively in the first half. It was a 9 minutes scoring drought that resulted in an insurmountable deficit.
Long term, this is not a loss that should define Louisville’s season. They were undermanned and at a clear disadvantage before the ball was even tipped. What you might worry about is how the team completely folded when things got tough out of the gate. Louisville was completely out-hustled and outplayed in every aspect.
The Cards’ season had gotten off to a good start, but it was only a matter of time before they struggled against an experienced team like Wisconsin. It likely won’t be the last time they find themselves down early this season.
The good news is that Louisville has a big week ahead of them and there is an opportunity to bounce back in a big way. They will be given the benefit of the doubt, but there is now pressure on the Cards to prove themselves after losing by 37 against a ranked opponent.
Louisville begins ACC play with a road matchup at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. ET.