By Dalton Ray —
Despite 20 points from junior Deng Adel, men’s basketball lost to No. 14 North Carolina 93-76.
Junior Ray Spalding added 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Cards fall to 8-6 in the ACC. Louisville continues to tumble in conference, losing their fourth game in six tries.
Senior Joel Berry III scored 23 for North Carolina, going 5-for-11 from deep.
Offensive rebounding and free throws (13-of-22) plagued U of L as UNC scored 22 second chance points on their 17 offensive rebounds.
Acting coach David Padgett said the early deficit was too much for his team to shake off.
“We just dug ourselves too big of a hole. Tough to overcome that against a team that can score like they can,” Padgett said. “That’s a heck of a team, they just played better than us tonight.”
UNC jumped out of the gate, hitting their opening five shots. Using a 14-3 run, they led 27-13 nine minutes in.
“I told coach (Roy) Williams if they shot like that, it’s going to take a heck of a night to beat them,” Padgett said. “That’s a very potent offensive team.”
North Carolina took advantage of Louisville’s six turnovers and hit 5-of-7 from three.
The final 10 minutes swayed more in Louisville’s favor as they cut a double-digit lead to single digits before the break.
Spalding and Adel sparked the strong play with efficient baskets and quality defensive possessions.
UNC went on a three-minute scoring drought, allowing Louisville to come within seven.
A basket before the half put the Tar Heels up 49-40.
Berry carried UNC with 18 points in the first half. While Adel had 13 of his own coming off the bench.
UNC open the second half with four baskets, pushing their lead to 15.
A string of defensive stops allowed Louisville to come within seven, but Berry quickly buried another three.
Trailing by 10, Louisville couldn’t protect the paint and North Carolina cashed in on easy baskets at the rim to push their lead back to 16.
A pair of Snider threes cut it back down to 10 with 7:30 to play.
Adel tried to will the Cardinals back into the game using his athleticism to get to the rim. A steal and a pair of free throws brought the Cards within seven.
Adel hit Spalding on an outlet pass to make it a two-possession game, but Berry’s chase down block erased the opportunity.
North Carolina’s Luke Maye got open after a pick-and-roll and hit the 3-point dagger with two minutes to play, pushing the lead back to 11.
Louisville travels to Durham on Feb. 21 to square off against No. 12 Duke.
“I told our guys we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. In the next couple weeks, it gets harder with every game,” Padgett said.
You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477.
Photos by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal