The University of Louisville men's basketball team went through the first 24 games of the season with 20 wins and no bad losses.
The Cardinals lost to three of the top four teams in the country and a top-15 North Carolina team on a last-second shot
The bad loss came in game No. 25.
Louisville didn't have a lot of rhythm on offense and played its worst defensive effort of the season in a 74-65 loss to North Carolina State. It was the third loss of the season at the KFC Yum Center for the Cardinals.
Terry Rozier fouled out with seven points and Montrezl Harrell only hit one field goal in the game, but U of L coach Rick Pitino was upset more with the defense.
N.C. State hit 61.9 percent from the field in the second half, built an 11 point lead and then Cat Barber hit nine free throws in the final 2:40 to seal it.
"In past years when we shot poorly like this, our defense could carry us," Pitino said. "But it didn't tonight. We got dominated. We're not getting any of our defensive stats. We don't come close to our deflections. Unfortunately, we don't turn people over.
But look we can't complain, because they were the better basketball team. They were better. They were better at every, single position, so you've got to give them credit. Whether we make shots or not, we never get our deflection totals, we never get our steal totals, we don't get our offensive rebound totals. When you shoot 32 percent, that means, if you offensive rebound, you get back in the game. I'm disappointed, but they were better than us."
PLAYER OF THE GAME
It looked like Wayne Blackshear might not play because of a hip pointer, but he played and was the best player for the Cardinals on this day.
Blackshear hit his first two three-pointers and had nine points in the first six minutes as the Cardinals looked sharp on offense.
The senior forward finished with 7 of 10 from the field for 19 points, four rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes. He was 4 of 6 from three-point range.
Blackshear is so much better when he hits his first shot, like he did here.
KEY STRETCH OF THE GAME
It came late in the game for the Cardinals.
With Rozier already fouled out, Louisville cut an 11-point deficit to 65-61 and the energy seemed like it was back with the Cardinals.
But after a good 20 seconds of defense, N.C. State found a wide-open BeeJay Anya roaming the left side of the baseline for a dunk.
The Cardinals would then turn it over and Cat Barber hit free throws to seal it.
THEY SAID IT
U of L coach Rick Pitino
“I think our guys are not like my other teams. They let points dictate. If they’re not scoring, they don’t play great defense. We’ve always had the mindset that we’re always going to play great defense regardless of whether we score or not. Our guys get deflated when they don’t score, and they paid the price tonight because of it. They deserved to lose the game tonight. It’s been going on for a while, and you got caught by a team that was better than us. I mean, two steals for us is ridiculous.”
A FEW LEFT OVERS
*****Louisville fell to 13-3 at home this season and lost for just the 12th time in the history of the KFC Yum! Center.
*****Louisville committed just one turnover in the first half for the second time this season in Saturday's game versus NC State. The Cards also only turned the ball over one time in the first half of a 78-63 win over Virginia Tech on Jan. 13.
*****Louisville finished with a season-low five miscues for the game, the lowest total since turning the ball over seven times for the game against Virginia Tech on Jan. 13. It was the lowest turnover total since committing five against Hofstra on Nov. 12, 2013.
*****After holding a 31-30 lead after 20 minutes on Saturday, Louisville dropped to 78-2 over the last three seasons when leading at halftime, including an 18-1 mark this season. It was the first time the Cardinals lost when holding a lead at the break since falling to Kentucky last season in the Sweet 16.
*****After being held without a 3-point field goal for the first time in 23 years on Wednesday versus Pittsburgh, the Cardinals responded by connecting on 7-of-16 in Saturday's game.
*****It's only the fifth time this season an opponent scored at least 70 points in a game.