Louisville hands UNC worst home loss un­der Wil­liams

Yuma Sun - - HOME SERVICES -

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Louisville went from suf­fer­ing a con­fi­dence-jar­ring loss against a long-strug­gling At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence pro­gram to hand­ing Roy Wil­liams his worst home loss in 16 sea­sons with North Carolina.

Tough to ex­plain? Even the Hall of Famer had a hard time with that.

“We never re­ally got into the game,” Wil­liams said af­ter Sat­ur­day’s 8362 de­feat to the Car­di­nals. “I’d like to give you a bril­liant an­swer as to why, but I can’t give you that bril­liant an­swer.”

It was as mys­ti­fy­ing a per­for­mance from No. 12 UNC — which had started league play with two road wins — as it was a strong ef­fort from Louisville fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day’s over­time loss to Pitts­burgh.

First-year coach Chris Mack said there was “some soul search­ing” af­ter that set­back, which snapped Pitt’s 23-game los­ing streak in ACC reg­u­lar-sea­son games. The Panthers had lost by 25 points at home to the Tar Heels a few days ear­lier.

Louisville (11-5, 2-1) re­sponded by strolling into Chapel Hill, jump­ing on UNC early and turn­ing a 43-34 half­time lead into an un­ex­pected rout.

LOU: 11-5 over­all UNC: 12-4 over­all

“I’ve been around the game enough to know you can be hum­bled on any given night and then erase a bit­ter feel­ing a few nights later,” Mack said. “I don’t know how foot­ball coaches do it, they get one game a week.”

Con­necti­cut trans­fer Steven Enoch had sea­son highs of 17 points and 11 re­bounds to lead the Car­di­nals, caus­ing all kinds of matchup prob­lems with his 6-foot-11 frame and strength to post up deep in the paint. Dwayne Sut­ton added 17 points, 10 re­bounds and seven as­sists to flirt with a triple dou­ble, help­ing the Car­di­nals shoot 52 per­cent while hit­ting 11 3-point­ers.

More im­por­tantly, the Car­di­nals con­trolled the glass (40-31) against one of the na­tion’s best re­bound­ing teams, keep­ing the Tar Heels from get­ting loose in tran­si­tion (four fast-break points) with solid de­fense.

“An­gry should be the motto for this team — play­ing an­gry and ag­gres­sive,” Enoch said. “That’s how it’s al­ways been for Louisville bas­ket­ball.”

Kenny Wil­liams scored 12 points for the Tar Heels (12-4, 2-1), who spent most of Sat­ur­day look­ing like a team search­ing for some­thing — any­thing — to build around. They shot 35 per­cent, in­clud­ing 3 of 22 on 3-point­ers, and com­mit­ted 11 sec­ond-half turnovers.

BIG PIC­TURE

Louisville: The Pitt loss cer­tainly was a low point con­sid­er­ing the Panthers had lost 25 of 26 games against league teams since Fe­bru­ary 2017. The Car­di­nals didn’t spend much time sulk­ing, in­stead hit­ting their first seven shots with four 3-point­ers to quickly set the tone.

“Our locker room was pretty glum, I didn’t help the mat­ter when I walked in and got af­ter them,” Mack said of the Pitt loss. “I thought their re­sponse was pretty good.

“But I said at one point to our coach­ing staff: ‘Hey, we could come in here and play re­ally hard and play re­ally well and play to­gether and still lose. Good teams do that.’ ... So yeah, a lit­tle sur­prised, but pleased with our guys’ ef­fort and at­ti­tude and re­sponse from the Pitts­burgh game.”

UNC: It was hard to see this com­ing. The Tar Heels had won four straight, the first three by at least 20 points fol­lowed by a victory at 15th-ranked ri­val North Carolina State on Tues­day night. Yet all that mo­men­tum van­ished in a woe­ful per­for­mance that in­cluded bad shoot­ing, a poor per­for­mance on the glass and de­fense that fre­quently failed to beat the Car­di­nals to a spot.

“I’m a lit­tle bit of a loss, but that’s OK,” Wil­liams said. “It hap­pens in coach­ing. We have a won­der­ful group of kids that we’ve got to pre­pare bet­ter, and we’ve got a head coach that’s try­ing but not do­ing very well.”

BIG MAR­GIN

Roy Wil­liams’ pre­vi­ous worst mar­gin of de­feat in Chapel Hill with UNC was a 69-53 loss to ri­val Duke in March 2013. It was also UNC’s worst home loss since Jan­uary 2002, an 8758 loss to Duke un­der for­mer coach Matt Do­herty dur­ing an 8-20 sea­son.

WARN­ING SIGNS

Roy Wil­liams said the Tar Heels had a “very medi­ocre” prac­tice two days ago, then an­other Fri­day.

“Hav­ing good prac­tices lead­ing into the games means a lot,” said sea­son­lead­ing scorer Cameron John­son, who had 10 points. “Even with that be­ing said, no ex­cuse to play the way we did.”

UP NEXT

Louisville: The Car­di­nals host Bos­ton Col­lege on Wed­nes­day

UNC: The Tar Heels host Notre Dame on Tues­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

NORTH CAROLINA’S Kenny Wil­liams (24) drives to the bas­ket while Louisville’s Ma­lik Wil­liams (5) de­fends dur­ing the first half of an NCAA col­lege bas­ket­ball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sat­ur­day.

Louisville 83 (12) UNC 62

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