Panthers hand Cards eighth 20 point loss of season, fall 75-54 Saturday, Jan 21 2023 

By Matthew Mueller

After Louisville’s latest encounter with the University of Pittsburgh, the Cardinals continue their lowball season with a 75-54 loss at home. This adds to the already recording setting and appalling record of 2-17, 0-8 in ACC play.

A familiar crash and burn

Pitt controlled Louisville on the defensive side of the ball throughout both halves of the game. Greg Elliott led the way for the Panthers with 23 points, making 75% of his shots from the field.

Furthermore, Jamarius Burton showed off his passing game shelling out 11 assists. He led all players in assists in the game, and Pittsburgh as a team recorded 21 to Louisville’s 6.

The dark (and bright) spots

As far as game positives go for Louisville, senior El Ellis had a good night leading the team with 19 points and going 5/5 at the free-throw line. Senior Jae’lyn Withers grabbed an additional 7 rebounds and 8 points.

Louisville faded fast, trailing for the rest of the second half — winning energy just wasn’t present enough to keep the Cards afloat, especially with the Pitt threes continuing to rain down in the Yum Center. They shot 41% while U of L only shot 25%.

What is to be said about this game has been said a hundred times before this season — the team is in a rough spot, and has a lot to overcome if it’s going to be among the top basketball programs in the near future.

The team especially needs leaders, and right now it feels like there are none leading to the monstrosity of the season we’ve been watching.

While Ellis and Curry are the veteran players, it feels like that key leadership role is empty, and without it being filled to get new players fired up, we could be looking at the rest of the season being nothing but an uphill fight all the way to the end.

Trying to stay positive

To stay optimistic over the latter half of ACC play, let’s point out some positives:

The team has a week’s break to prepare for their next four games. All those opponents are currently sitting in the bottom half of the ACC, meaning there are potentially a couple of realistic chances to add some wins (if the team comes to play).

Payne and company also signed top NBA Africa Academy prospect Emmanuel Okorafor, a 6-9 guard. He is eligible to play immediately, and while he may not get immediate minutes, he could provide the Cards some much-needed energy and an answer to that leadership problem in the locker room. He averaged 9.2 points and 10.4 rebounds last season.

Photo Courtesy // Adam Creech Louisville Athletics //

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Kenny Payne (finally) won his game, men’s basketball routs WKU 94-83 Saturday, Dec 17 2022 

By Spencer Laws 

The Louisville men’s basketball team (1-9) picked up their first regular-season win in the Kenny Payne era against in-state foe Western Kentucky (8-2). 

Wednesday night showed a glimpse of hope that many fans have been waiting for up until this point— the nine games prior displayed a team that looked like they barely wanted to compete on the court. 

This team was hustling on fast breaks, diving for loose balls, all around just playing with a lot more energy; something plenty of Cards fans hoped Payne would instill in his players in his first years holding the keys to his alma mater. 

Numerous players transferred in and out of the program, leaving Payne with a completely different team from last year. When the losses began much of the fanbase began to point fingers at KP and the new coaching staff.

Head coach of Western Kentucky, Rick Stansbury, is happy for Payne and what it will mean going forward for him in his first year. 

“I’m proud that he got a win, just didn’t want it to be against us. So you guys get off of him some up here. I didn’t want him to beat us, I didn’t want to be the first. But again, I’ve kept things in perspective with the team. Fans don’t do that sometimes.”

What Worked

El Ellis is a big reason why the Cards picked up that win Wednesday night, torching the Hilltoppers. Ellis finished the game with 30 points and 10 assists, recording his first career double-double. He’s the first Cardinal to put up a 30-10 game since Reese Gains did back in 2002 against TCU. 

Freshman Kamari Lands added a career-high 15 points off the bench, but both were two of five players to end up in double figures.

Jae’lyn Withers finished with 10 points, Sydney Curry added 10 more, and Brandon Huntley Hatfield rounded out the group with 11 points.

The all-around offensive performance was by far the best we have seen this season. U of L ended the game shooting an impressive 54.4% from the field. As a team, they also knocked down another season-high of 13 threes (in 25 attempts), 17 assists, and a remarkable 94 points. 

WKU was able to heavily out-rebound the Cardinals, grabbing 37 to their 29. Of those 83 points, 42 came from the paint. 

Point guard Davion McKnight, a Louisville native, controlled the pace of the Hilltoppers and challenged the Cards with 25 points and five offensive rebounds.

The Cards look to double up their wins this Saturday, as Florida A&M comes to town to face off at 2 P.M.

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Cards Can’t Complete Comeback, Fall To Bellarmine 67-66 Sunday, Nov 13 2022 

By: Jason Krell

The Knights of Bellarmine wanted nothing more than to spoil the first game of the Kenny Payne
era and walk out of the Yum! Center with a win, and they did just that.

The Cards were slow out of the gate and Bellarmine took full advantage outscoring them 41-30
in the first half. Defensive breakdowns allowed the Knights to lead by as much as twelve in
the first half and completely dominated in the paint despite Louisville’s size advantage. The
Knights shot an impressive 59% from the field to the Cards’ 38% heading into the break where
one can only imagine what Payne had to say to his guys.

The pressure was on now to see if Louisville could wake up in the second half and avoid one of
the worst opening losses in recent memory. The Cards’ comeback quest was fueled by trio
Jae’Lyn Withers, El Ellis, and Mike James who all scored in double figures, but were matched by
Bellarmine’s Garret Tipton and Bash Wieland, putting up 21 and 13 respectively.

Trimming down the lead late in the second half, Louisville was within one with a chance to send
the Knights packing. Freshman Kamari Lands missed a potential game-winning jump shot that
would have given the Cards the edge. Bellarmine escaped a second-half collapse and walked off
the court feeling more confident than ever that they belonged with the big boys.

All is not lost for the Cardinals as they will get a second chance on Saturday, November 12th
where they will take on Wright State. No game from this point forward will be a walk in
Cherokee Park, but the Cards can take away the positives from this contest and move on.

A head coach in his first season with a new roster is bound to have some early season hiccups. Let us not
press the panic button…yet.

File Photo // USA TODAY //

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Why You Shouldn’t Panic After Louisville’s Loss to Lenoir-Rhyne Saturday, Nov 5 2022 

By: Jason Krell

Sunday’s contest against division two foe, Lenoir-Rhyne gave Cardinal fans a first glimpse of what Kenny Payne and company have been building this offseason and what’s the come during the 2022-23 season.

The Issues

The Cards managed to hold a two-point lead heading into halftime but would get outscored 31-19 in the second half and shoot an abysmal 23% from the field. Leading all scorers was redshirt junior, Jae’Lyn Withers who is one of just seven returners on this Louisville roster. 

The Kenny Payne era got off to a slow start with Sunday’s loss marking the end of a 39-game winning streak in exhibition games dating back to December of 2000 where Denny Crum and company fell 87-86 in double overtime to the Global Sports All-Stars. 

Don’t Panic

Sure, fans are upset to lose to a small little school in Hickory, North Carolina, but fans shouldn’t be sweating just yet. This is Payne’s first year as a head coach at any level so there are bound to be some ups and downs. Payne took over this program with the knowledge that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get this team back to where they know they can be.

Looking Forward

Additionally, the first game with a whole new roster and coaching staff is all but guaranteed to have a slow start on their first time hitting the court. Making open shots, rebounding, and defensive effort are all things that will come in time as the Cards continue to shake the rust off. They will have one more opportunity to get the screws tightened in an exhibition matchup against Chaminade on November 3rd before opening regular season play against across-town foe, Bellarmine on November 9th at 9 pm.

A rocky start certainly doesn’t predict the future but rather provides a benchmark for fans and players moving forward. Many Cards fans remain optimistic that Kenny Payne will turn this program around and contend as one of the top teams in the ACC and on the national stage.

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Jones, Johnson, Withers Earn All-ACC Honors Monday, Mar 8 2021 

By Kenny Klein–

Three University of Louisville men’s basketball student-athletes have received postseason recognition in the Atlantic Coast Conference for their accomplishments this season.

Graduate guard Carlik Jones was honored as a first team 2020-21 All-ACC selection, sophomore guard David Johnson earned honorable mention All-ACC honors, and freshman forward Jae’Lyn Withers was chosen as a member of the ACC All-Freshman team in a vote of media and league coaches.

Jones is only the third Cardinal to earn first team honors in Louisville’s seven years in the ACC, joining Jordan Nwora (2020) and Donovan Mitchell (2017).  Jones received the third-highest votes and finished tied for second in the conference player of the year vote.

Jones is the only player in the ACC to rank among the top five in scoring (17.0 ppg, 5th in the ACC), assists (4.6 apg, 3rd), assists/turnovers ratio (2.16, 3rd) and free throw percentage (.826, 3rd). He has 100 career double-figure scoring efforts, including 40 of his last 41 games (17 of his 18 at Louisville). He is the first person in UofL history to reach double figures in his first 17 games at Louisville.

It is Johnson’s first all-conference honor and with Jones’ selection, the pair matches Jordan Nwora’s All-ACC first team and Dwayne Sutton’s honorable mention selections from last year.  Johnson is the only player in the ACC among the top 25 in both rebounding and assists, averaging 12.6 points, 3.3 assists (11th in the ACC) and 5.5 rebounds (25th).  He has nearly doubled his scoring and rebounding averages from a year ago and has buried six times his number of three-pointers from last season (team leading 30-of-79 threes this year, .380).

Withers is the first Louisville freshman to be named to the conference All-Freshman team in the Cardinals’ seven years in the ACC and he is the first Cardinal to receive a similar honor since Chane Behanan was named to the Big East All-Rookie team in 2012.

Withers is the leading freshman rebounder in the ACC for all games (7.9 per game, 6th overall) and in conference only games (8.4, 3rd overall).  After redshirting last season, Withers is averaging 10.2 points while shooting a team-best 56 percent from the field.  The only player to start every game this season for the Cardinals, he has averaged 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds over the last three games.

Louisville (13-6, 8-5 ACC) will enter the 2021 ACC Tournament as the number six seed and play on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Tuesday’s game between Duke and Boston College. The complete bracket is available here (PDF).

Story and Photo Courtesy of GoCards

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