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Cards Drop Road Contest at No. 4/3 North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — January 18, 2024 – Seth Greenwell

Louisville men’s basketball fought back to make it a battle in the second half Wednesday with No. 4/3 North Carolina, before ultimately falling 86-70 on the road.

The Cardinals (6-11, 1-5 ACC) trailed by 17 at halftime and as much as 20 in the first half, but cut their deficit to five with 12:40 remaining in the game.

North Carolina answered with a 13-5 burst, and UofL didn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way.

“They are a team that could easily win a championship this year,” Louisville head coach Kenny Payne said. “We knew that coming in. We knew we had to play lights-out to come in here and get a win. I thought we played hard, I thought we fought, but there are no good efforts and moral victories with this program that I’m at. I want to win games, and I want these guys that are in that jersey to know what it feels like to go into North Carolina and win a game.”

An early 11-0 run by the Tar Heels gave them a 15-4 lead to start the game at the 15:04 mark following three straight 3-pointers.

Louisville committed nine turnovers in the first half while UNC shot 50% from the floor to build a 46-29 halftime advantage.

The Cardinals caught fire offensively to open the second half, making nine of their first 10 shots and seven straight at one point.

Redshirt sophomore guard/forward Mike James’ 3-pointer trimmed North Carolina’s lead to 55-50 with 12:40 left.

On the next possession, UNC’s RJ Davis was fouled on a long fadeaway 3 and made all three free throws. That sparked a 13-5 Carolina run that made it 68-55 at the 8:02 mark.

Sophomore guard Skyy Clark’s 3 with 6:28 to play again pulled UofL within 70-62, but that was the Cards’ last threat. The Tar Heels (14-3, 6-0) went on a 9-0 run leading by nine to pull away for good.

Clark led Louisville with 16 points, four made 3s and four assists. Junior forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield finished with 15 points and six rebounds, and sophomore guard Tre White chipped in 12 points.

The Cardinals outshot North Carolina from the field at 49.1%, including a 64% clip after halftime. Louisville made 6 of 8 3-pointers after the break and shot 44% from deep for the game.

Davis paced the Tar Heels with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Former Cardinal Jae’Lyn Withers had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Cardinals will stay on the road in North Carolina this week to face Wake Forest at 12 p.m. ET Saturday in Winston-Salem. The game will air on ESPNU.

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