Morning After: Cards lose at Villanova

Well, it's not the best morning after a game this season. Louisville turned in a dude last night, missing free throws and giving up a lead late in a 73-64 loss to Villanova on the road. Cardinal Authority has a few thoughts from the game, which moved the Cardinals to 16-3 on the season.

1. It's a bad loss but not the end of the season: The immediate reaction to the loss by some fans was anger – which is what it should have been because that was a bad effort – but the whole idea that the season is over or this team isn't going to make a late-season run is just laughable. Remember, there's one game like this almost every year. A bad loss, on the road and after a hard game on Saturday. In some sense, this was sort of a trap game. But there's still no reason for the poor play and nasty free throw shooting. It looked bad last night and it still stings today but the season is far from over. The Cardinals are still one of the elite teams in the country and they'll get it right again soon. Just remember last year!

2. Free throw shooting: U of L coach Rick Pitino called his team's efforts at the free-throw line "despicable," comparing them to Shaquille O'Neal. The Cardinals are hitting 69.8 percent from the line this season and last night were an awful 12 of 24 from the line. Chane Behanan was the worst of the shooters, hitting just 3 of 9 from the line. Behanan had been shooting them better and was 21 of his last 30 in eight games. But he sure didn't shoot it well against the Wildcats. With Behanan and the entire team, it's more mental than anything. It's not like they don't practice free throws and do it often. Pitino said they need a little extra time on their own and you would think a performance like that would hit home with the players.

3. Blackshear emerging: Wayne Blackshear has played better and better every game and I thought that was his best performance of the season. He even had that impressive drive and dunk in the first half, not to mention the three-pointers and 17 points for the game. He played 31 minutes and was 6 of 11 from the field. He's still not all the way back. Pitino said Blackshear told him it was just about two weeks ago that he woke up and felt like his shoulder was in great shape. He's really playing better and I think it will just get better and better.

4. Worst game for Russ Smith: It wasn't a good night for Russ Smith, who at times reverted back to Russdiculous. He was 2-for-13 from the field and had four turnovers – two just throwing it right to the defender. Smith took a lot of bad shots and even worse on several occasions passed up throwing it to an open man (Blackshear late in the corner) and drove in to take a bad shot. He's been sensational for much of the season and had a bad night. Now, the key is for him to get back on track and not let that bad night linger.

5. A few leftovers: Peyton Siva had a solid game with 15 points, 13 assists and just three turnovers. He was solid. . . . Stephan Van Treese only played seven minutes but he was solid in those minutes, even starting the second half. Van Treese hustled, got his hands on a few balls and had three points and two rebounds. He even hit his only free throw! . . . Gorgui Dieng didn't have his normal brace on the left wrist, instead wearing what looked like was a lot of tape on the wrist. It looked like it took him time to get adjusted. . . . Cards will try to get back on track this Saturday at noon against Georgetown.


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