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ACC Roundup - Louisville’s Still Winless And UNC Has Lost Four Straight

For the ACC, there’s no good in this.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Louisville
Dec 4, 2022; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard El Ellis (3) draws a foul from Miami (Fl) Hurricanes center Favour Aire (12) while shooting during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Miami defeated Louisville 80-53.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

In Sunday’s ACC Action, Louisville fell to 0-8 with a 80-53 home loss to Miami and UNC fell for the fourth straight time, dropping 80-72 at Virginia Tech.

In UNC’s defense, Armando Bacot sat out due to a shoulder injury and for UNC, he is irreplaceable.

In his absence, the Tar Heels pulled down just four offensive rebounds and we might be wrong here, but we think they were all in the second half.

Pete Nance did okay as Bacot’s fill-in, but UNC really has no backup. Nance had 18 points and 10 boards.

RJ Davis and Caleb Love also had 18 each. Puff Johnson was the fifth starter, but had minimal impact.

We’re not sure if a team that started the season at #1 has ever lost four straight and we’re certain that no ACC team has ever done that.

To UNC’s credit, Virginia Tech was blowing the Heels out and they rallied from 18 down to make the final score respectable.

But there was no overcoming the absence of Bacot. Justin Mutts is a wonderful, versatile player, but there’s no way in the world he would have hit 12-16 if a healthy Bacot was playing.

One other tell-tale sign of Bacot’s absence: the Hokies shot 21-27 from the line and UNC was just 11-15.

As for Louisville, what can you possibly say at this point? There are just four winless programs in D-1 and the proud Cardinals are one of them.

That’s hard to believe but it’s true.

And Miami was the wrong team to get into it with Sunday, because the ‘Canes have a solid group, even if it’s undersized, and they’re very well coached.

Louisville had 19 turnovers, including five in the first five minutes. They shot just 29.8 percent, hit just 3-20 on threes and just six of those shots came from assists, half from Durham native El Ellis, who is not a natural point guard.

When Kenny Payne was hired, it seemed fairly euphoric. Not only was he one of Louisville’s own, he was highly regarded as an assistant and great things were predicted for him. He may still accomplish amazing things, but probably not this year.

It’s not all Payne’s fault.

After the game, he explained that, contrary to conventional wisdom, he did try to recruit the portal but Louisville’s uncertain NCAA fate made that unproductive. And he said he tried to convince the guys who left after last season to stay, but that they wanted a fresh start.

It’s just a tough situation for everyone. Payne tried to move tough guy Sidney Curry back into the starting lineup, but he got next to nothing done in 11 minutes of action.

There’s honestly not an area where the Cards can be confident now. This is just an awful team at the moment.

Payne stayed in the locker room for 30 minutes afterwards, and understandably so. He has to simultaneously challenge and reassure his team. Mike Krzyzewski or Dean Smith might be able to turn this around. Maybe Tony Bennett or, one of the great turnaround artists of all time, Rick Pitino, but that ship has obviously sailed.

All Louisville can do is to buckle down and try to keep their heads up and to improve. It’s obviously going to be a season of struggle, but you can sow the seeds of future success even in a dreadful season.

We just feel bad for Nolan Smith who went home to Louisville, where his father won a national championship and where he is rightly considered family.

Hopefully next season will be better and we hope Louisville fans will show some character and patience as well. It’s going to take some time.

No games Monday but Tuesday will be busy with six.

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