By Jeff Milby–
The eighth-ranked men’s basketball team dropped their first game against an unranked opponent this season in a 88-81 road loss to Wake Forest.
Louisville jumped out to a hot start behind strong efforts from junior Jaylen Johnson and sophomores Ray Spalding and Donovan Mitchell. Trailing by 14 on senior night, the Demon Deacons closed the half on a 10-2 run.
With four players on the bench with two fouls, Louisville led 43-42 at the break. With the front court tandem of senior Mangok Mathiang and junior Matz Stockman, U of L trailed in the rebounding battle 18-16.
Wake hit two 3-pointers to take their first lead of the game less than two minutes into the half. With 15:19 to go in the game, coach Rick Pitino got a technical foul, following a third foul call on Spalding. Wake Forest hit three of the ensuing four free throws and followed it with a 3-pointer to grow the lead to 11 points.
Louisville cut the lead to single digits in a back-and-forth second half, but Wake Forest answered every Louisville run with 3-pointers.
With 3:59 to play, junior Quentin Snider brought the Deacons’ lead to three. Nearly completing the comeback, Spalding’s turnover led to back-to-back 3-pointers from Wake’s Konstantinos Mitoglou and Mitchell Wilbekin pushed the lead to nine, 81-72.
The Deacons wouldn’t look back, finishing the game off free throws to win 88-81.
John Collins led Wake with 25 points, while Keyshawn Woods added 20 points off of the bench. Wake Forest finished the game with seven turnovers to Louisville’s 11 and shot 41.7 percent from three compared to U of L’s 27.8 percent.
For Louisville, sophomore Deng Adel led the way with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting while Snider finished with 15. Mitchell fouled out of the game, finishing with seven points, all of which were scored in the opening four minutes.
The Cards host Notre Dame on March 4 to finish regular season play.