The University of Louisville basketball team started strong and built a 13-point lead.
But the Cardinals couldn't finish off Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night in East Lansing, Mich, dropping a 71-67 decision to the No. 3-ranked Spartans.
The Cardinals led for 31:28 of the game but a five-minute drought in the second half did them in. U of L is now 5-1 on the season.
MVP of the Game - Damion Lee
The fifth-year transfer from Drexel didn't back down in his first major test with the Cardinals.
Lee led the Cardinals with 23 points, five steals and three rebounds in 38 minutes. He was 8 of 15 from the field, including just 2 of 8 from three-point range. He hit all five of his free throws.
While he still isn't shooting it well from three-point range, Lee continues to get to the basket. He's so good at attacking that sometimes it seems like he's shooting too many three-pointers. He's also the team's best free-throw shooter.
On two occasions, Lee hit a bucket when the Cardinals needed to stem the tide. He had the answer but in the final five minutes he didn't get a couple of shots to go. He's still the MVP for the Cardinals.
A close second MVP - Trey Lewis
It was a good night for the fifth-year guys.
Lee was the mVP and Lewis - who came to U of L from Cleveland State - was a close second. Lewis finished with 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and three turnovers in 36 minutes.
Lewis was 7 of 13 from the field and hit 2 of 6 three-pointers. He made one of his biggest shots late in the game after Michigan State took its first lead, Lewis answered with one of his three-pointers.
He continues to get better - and more comfortable - in his new role.
It has to be Chinanu Onuaku.
The sophomore center had played so well except the foul trouble in a couple of games. And it was fouls again for the 6-foot-10 Onuaku, who picked up two in the first five minutes and finished with four in 16 minutes.
Onuaku did have six rebounds but was just 1-for-4 from the field and his three misses were shots he took while fading away from the basket. He had two points and one blocked shot.
The big guy must play better.
Biggest play of the game
It's one of the biggest - the bad call.
I'm not one to blame a loss on one call in a game and this certainly wasn't the only thing that cost Louisville, but the charge call on Damion Lee was a critical call and was a big one.
With 3:47 left, Michigan State had missed a three-pointer and Lee was to the basket in transition. The call was a charge on Lee, while Tum Tum Nairn appeared to not get set in time. The Spartans scored on the other end in a big turn of events.
Stat of the night
Louisville came into the game as the leader nationally in rebounding margin at 21.4.
But it was the Spartans night on the boards. Michigan State outrebounded Louisville 40-30.
Up next. . . .
The Cardinals will host Grand Canyon on Saturday at noon.
The Lopes are 6-0 on the season.