That's because the Cardinals couldn't stop BYU's Jonathan Tavernari and Trent Plaised, who combined to score 50 points, while leading the Cougars to a 78-76 win over the Cardinals Friday night at Orleans Arena. Tavernari finished with a game-high 29 points, draining 5-11 three's, while Plaised added 21 points and 12 rebounds.
"He was terrific," Rick Pitino said of Tavernari. "He hit a lot of challenged shots tonight."
Unless North Carolina falls to Old Dominion in the nightcap Friday night, Louisville will face the Monarchs in the event's consolation game Saturday evening.
"Give BYU credit, they hit tough shots," Pitino said. "They're are older guys. They're all seniors and juniors and unfortunately we're a depleted basketball team right now. They made a lot of big shots."
Things looked good for Louisville early as the Cardinals opened a 7-2 lead in games first few moments. And while the Cardinals shot 70 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes, BYU capitalized on 13 U of L turnovers to build a 41-37 halftime lead.
Pitino must have lit a fire under his team at halftime. Led by 6'9 sophomore Derrick Caracter, the Cardinals opened the second frame with a 14-7 run to take a 51-48 lead with 14 minutes to play. But BYU didn't waver, regrouped and went on to hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season.
With 27 NBA scouts in attendance, Caracter and 6'9 sophomore Earl Clark made strong impressions. Caracter finished with a team-high 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Clark added 17 points and seven boards.
"Earl Clark right now is playing terrific but he's playing too many minutes," Pitino said. Clark played an iron-man-like 38 minutes against BYU.
While Caracter and Clark kept Louisville close in the second half, Louisville didn't get much production from point guards Edgar Sosa and Andre McGee. McGee, who scored 18 points in the first two rounds of the Las Vegas Invitational, scored just one point. Sosa also struggled, hitting just 1 of 5 shots. McGee and Sosa also combined for only one assist.
Louisville came into the game allowing just 57 points per game but struggled defensively against the Cougars constant motion and ball movement. BYU hit 15-30 shots in the decisive second half and shot 44.4 percent for the game.
The Cardinals cooled off from their torrid first half shooting pace, making just 14-35 shots from the field in the second half. For the game, Louisville made 50.9 percent of their shots, but only 5-17 from beyond the arch.
"We did a lot of good things tonight but we're just running out of gas too much," said Pitino. "We've just got to weather the storm right now."