Louisville coach Rick Pitino was thoroughly embarrassed with the way his team played their last time out, but he wasn’t entirely surprised.
The 11th-ranked Cardinals look to bounce back from a disappointing loss and come out with more enthusiasm on Saturday when they face winless Indiana State in the first game of the inaugural Marques Maybin Classic at Freedom Hall.
Louisville (2-1) opened this season as the third-ranked team in the country — its highest preseason ranking since it was No. 2 in 1987—but hardly looked like a team expected to make a run for the national title its last time out.
After winning their first two games by an average of 32.5 points, the Cardinals were outplayed in every facet of the game in Sunday’s 68-54 loss to Western Kentucky.
Louisville shot 26.8 percent (15-of-56) and made just 6-of-30 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. The Cardinals’ guards went a combined 3-of-23 from the floor and the team was outrebounded 48-36.
“They were open shots, the ball didn’t go down,” Pitino said. “We didn’t offensive rebound with any great authority. It was a double-edge sword.”
Louisville dropped eight spots in the AP poll with the loss, and Pitino said his team’s lethargic performance in practices during the week translated into an uninspired game.
“You don’t like to learn your lessons from losing, but to be quite honest the way we practiced all week, we did not deserve to win,” Pitino said. “You reap what you sow.”
Terrence Williams was held out of practice for three days last week, and wasn’t very sharp on Sunday. Williams, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered during the first week of practice in October, finished with a team-high 19 points, but made just 5-of-14 shots.
Highly touted freshman Samardo Samuels also looked flat after an impressive debut. Samuels, a McDonald’s All-American and last season’s high school player of the year, averaged 21.0 points on 77.3 percent shooting (17-of-22) in his first two games, but was limited to 11 on 3-of-7 shooting against the Hilltoppers.
The Cardinals will likely be more determined and better prepared for this game.
“We will improve our practice habits immediately,” Pitino said on his official Web site on Monday. “We have not sustained our intensity on a consistent basis. That all changes today. We apologize to the fans who paid hard earned money and had to witness such poor execution.”
Louisville will try and turn things around against Indiana State (0-5), which is still seeking its first win.
The Sycamores lost to Arkansas State 56-54 on Monday, as the Red Wolves’ Donald Boone scored the winning basket with 43 seconds left. It was another heart-breaking loss for Indiana State, as four of its five games have been decided by seven points or less.
Jay Tunnell led the Sycamores with 16 points and Rashad Reed added 15, but no other player on Indiana State scored more than six.
The Sycamores have lost four straight games against ranked opponents by an average of 16.0 points since a 72-64 win over No. 15 Butler on Dec. 9, 2006.
Louisville is 5-1 all-time against Indiana State, but the two schools haven’t met since the Cardinals’ 105-69 victory on Dec. 12, 1983.
Louisville continues this round-robin tournament on Sunday against Ohio University and wraps up the event Monday versus Lamar.
The Sycamores will play Lamar on Sunday and Ohio on Monday.