Offensive Struggles Leads to Cards Upset in Exhibition
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Courtesy: UofL Athletics) — The University of Louisville men’s basketball team fell 57-47 to Lenoir-Rhyne on Sunday in its opening exhibition of the season at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Cardinals opened the game with a 13-4 lead, but shot just 23.8% from the field in the second half and 29.2% for the game.
Lenoir-Rhyne, coached by former UofL standout Everick Sullivan, snapped Louisville’s streak of 39 straight exhibition victories over the last 21 years.
“We needed this,” Louisville head coach Kenny Payne said. “We have to get healed. We have to not be delusional about who we are. We have to know that every player that has a jersey on, whether it’s practice, whether it’s a workout, whether it’s a game, you have to bring your best. You have to fight for your life, not just for you but for everybody else in the room. We’re not the most talented team in the world, we’re not. We just made that evident by losing to a Division II school, what a great lesson. I wish it didn’t happen but I sort of needed it to happen because, at the end of the day, I’m going to say this, I’m trying to establish a culture and that culture is going to have some adversity in it, how do you handle it? Right out the gate, we’re going to see who we are.
“You just lost to a team that you should never have lost to. They are a good team, a very good team, but you should not have lost to them. How will you go and handle that adversity, how? That’s what I’m really looking forward to seeing.”
The Cardinals led 28-26 at the break and still by two at 36-34 with 13:59 to play after a pair of free throws by redshirt junior forward Jae’lyn Withers.
But Lenoir-Rhyne went on a 12-0 run to claim a double-digit advantage and never look back.
“We saw a couple of baskets go in for them and the lead shorted,” Withers said. “That’s when we hit some adversity. We needed to keep the energy up and we failed to do that today. It’s a learning lesson for sure. I think we’re going to come into practice Tuesday and the energy should be a lot better.”
Withers paced UofL with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while redshirt freshman guard/forward Mike James added eight points in his Cardinal debut.
LJ McCoy scored 16 points to pace Lenoir-Rhyne.
The Cardinals complete exhibition play against Chaminade at 7 p.m. ET Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center. The game will stream on ACC Network Extra.
“It kind of shows us where we need to improve,” James said. “Just bringing more attention to detail, more intensity at practice leading up into the games. I feel like this kind of opened our eyes to what we really need to hammer down on at practice, and I feel like when we come back to practice on Tuesday, we’ll show way better intensity and focus.”
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