After a quartet of too-close-for-comfort wins to open the season, the #17 Louisville Cardinals faced their toughest test so far with their first real road game at Purdue, part of the Big Ten/ACC challenge.
Slated to be their first ranked matchup before the season, Purdue fell out of top 25 rankings due to their performance at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. That showing did include an 89-64 drubbing of then-#2 Arizona, who saw their own precipitous drop out of the national rankings.
While the game went down to the final minutes, Louisville couldn’t overcome foul trouble, turnovers and poor shooting and suffered their first loss 66-57.
While Louisville went on a 7-0 to start the game, but both teams struggled offensively in the first half, with Louisville only making 28 percent of its shots and Purdue making 30. That poor shooting performance and eight Cardinal turnovers allowed Purdue to stay in the game and get a 23-22 lead heading into halftime.
Purdue struggled shooting coming out of the locker room, while Louisville played a much better offensive game took a 31-25 lead. However, eight Cardinal fouls in the first six minutes of the second half sent both Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud to the bench and allowed the Boilermakers to go on a 12-0 run and take their own lead. Two three-pointers from Jordan Nwora and Quentin Snider and a tip-in by Spalding put Louisville back on top with just under eight minutes left to go.
The teams traded baskets for a good chunk of the second half, with Louisville down 51-50 with just under four minutes left to go. Louisville threatened, but were never able to catch up with the Boilermakers.
Louisville has plenty to learn from this game. They only managed to shoot 31.7 percent from the field, turned the ball over 14 times and committed 23 fouls. The two Cards big men, Spalding and Mahmoud, were part of that foul trouble and combined to shoot 7-18 from the field, with many of those misses being around the rim.
Still, for a team that suffered so much offseason upheaval, Louisville put up an admirable effort in front of a thunderous Mackey Arena crowd, a few who were wearing shirts emblazoned with the letters FBI or bearing signs referencing the Cards’ previous troubles.
V.J. King led all scorers with 17 points on 5-11 shooting. Spalding was the game’s top rebounder, grabbing nine boards.
Louisville moves to 4-1 (0-1 Away) on the season, while Purdue now has a 6-2 (4-0 Home) record.
The Cards head back home to face Seton Hall as part of the Billy Minardi Classic on December 3.
Chris Acree joined The Cardinal Connect as a contributing writer in August of 2016.