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Louisville seeks end to historic skid, faces Pitt

Jan 14, 2023; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Louisville Cardinals forward Sydney Curry (21) receives instruction from head coach Kenny Payne as he heads to the bench during the second half against the North Carolina Tar Heels at KFC Yum! Center. North Carolina defeated Louisville 80-59. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville looks to end its worst start in league play in more than 80 years when it hosts Pitt in Atlantic Coast Conference play on Wednesday.

The Cardinals (2-16, 0-7 ACC) are winless in conference play through seven games for the first time since finishing 0-11 in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference during the 1939-1940 season.

Louisville dropped its seventh straight game overall with an 80-59 loss to visiting North Carolina on Saturday. Pitt (12-6, 5-2) ended a two-game slide with a 71-60 win over host Georgia Tech that same day.

The Cardinals trailed by 11 at halftime and by as many as 23 in the second half against the Tar Heels.

El Ellis, who averages a team-high 17.7 points per game, scored a game-high 22 points, while Sydney Curry, who averages 5.4 points per game, added nine points. However, no other Cardinal scored more than Mike James and Jae’Lyn Withers, who had eight points apiece.

The Cardinals shot 20 of 54 (37 percent) from the field, including an abysmal 1 of 14 (7.1 percent) from 3-point range.

“It’s real simple, I had multiple guys on the court today who didn’t compete,” Louisville first-year coach Kenny Payne said. “You can’t win. They didn’t play with fire against a very good North Carolina team.”

Meanwhile, Pitt’s Nike Sibande, who averages 7.3 points per game, had a season-high 21 points off the bench against the Yellow Jackets. Jamarius Burton, who averages a team-high 16.7 points per game, added 19 for the Panthers.

“I just want to win at the end of the day,” Sibande said. “It’s not about starting, not about none of that. It’s about winning. … I’ve been in my role and been successful in my role and I’m just trying to do the best I can in my role.”

Blake Hinson, who averages 16.2 points per game, finished with 13 points and four rebounds, with Nelly Cummings, who averages 10.8 points per game, chipping in 11 points and five rebounds against the Yellow Jackets.

Pitt also made 17 of its 20 attempts from the free-throw line, including their last six in the final 1:08.

“I was pleased in the second half, not in the first half,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “They had eight offensive rebounds in the first half. I thought we did a little bit better in the second half. We’re not where we need to be, but we took a step in the right direction.”

–Field Level Media