I have witnessed lower seeds off to sluggish starts, yet prevailing at the end. I have witnessed higher seeds get routed early, and march their way to a win at the end.
Well, that was not the case between Louisville and Cal.
Louisville got off to an arrant start—allowing the Golden Bears to start the game off on a 12-0 run before scoring the first basket.
Louisville trailed throughout the whole game, but down by as much as 18—the Cardinals refused to go away, and clawed into the Cal lead, bringing it four with less than 10 minutes to go.
Soon after, Louisville tolerated a three-point basket that kindled an 8-2 run to compel the lead back to ten.
This was when Cal continued to maintain their dominance with brief assistance from Louisville on the way.
Late game, Louisville’s guard Kyle Kuric was whistled for an intentional foul, which resulted in a Rick Pitino technical—which enabled the Golden Bears to push the lead to 14—and this put the nail in the coffin.
The Cardinals capped the game just the way it began, allowing a 12-0 run to open the game, and to close it, leaving a sour taste in the Cardinals mouth as they became another Big East team that was bounced in the first round.
The trouble for Louisville on defense was simple: They were unable to stop the offensive attack of Cal.
The Golden Bears ended the game shooting 51 percent from the field, 53 percent from deep, and 77 percent from the line.
On the other hand, the Louisville offensive struggles were much more puzzling.
I could tell you, how crucial it was that Edgar Sosa was playing with foul trouble all game, but we all know Pitino’s Cardinals are fabricated with a good bench. In other instances, the Cardinals were able to overcome foul trouble or injuries, but not today.
The Cardinals were also unable to get contributions from major players.
Only two players we’re in double-figures for the Cardinals, while four of the five starters combined for 16 total points.
This resulted in yet another early exit.
The freshman Rakeem Buckles stepped up big time on the big stage, and was the key contributor to keeping Louisville in the game.
Buckles finished the game with 20 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field, and nine rebounds in just 19 minutes of playing time.
So what is next for the Cardinals?
Well, they will not live to see another day of college basketball, and their four seniors—Delk, Sosa, Smith, and Brickley—will not be returning to the team next year. The Louisville basketball season is officially over.
The Cardinals ended with a (20-13) record and wants to forget about their (0-2) run in the tournaments.
The future looks bright for the Cardinals with their talented roster, and stable recruiting class.