On Jan. 2, when Louisville held off Georgia Tech 67-64 in a game at Atlanta, the Cardinals were 9-4 overall and 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. It looked like another 20-win season and an NCAA Tournament berth were on the horizon.
And then Louisville collapsed, winning just three more games. Coach Chris Mack was dismissed but the losing continued. A once promising regular season ended with the Cardinals going 12-18 overall and 6-14 in the ACC.
Louisville will try to salvage some dignity Tuesday night in the ACC tournament at Brooklyn, N.Y., where it meets Georgia Tech in a first-round matchup, putting its 11 seed up against a 14.
The Cardinals dropped a 71-61 home decision Saturday to Virginia, falling victim to a 22-3 run that ended the first half and put them in a 36-17 hole. Not even a 44-point second half could make a difference.
“Our consistency and ability on the defensive end to finish every possession hurt us and that is where I thought the game was lost,” Louisville interim coach Mike Pegues said.
Noah Locke is the Cardinals’ leading scorer at just 9.5 points per game, making 34.4 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Georgia Tech (12-19) enters on somewhat of a high, thanks to an 82-78 overtime win Saturday over Boston College that saw seniors Jordan Usher and Michael Devoe combine for 48 points.
“Good win for us,” Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner said. “We found a way to get a win in a situation where the lead evaporated for us. The momentum shifted, but we found a way to get it done.”
Devoe led the team in scoring at 18.0 points per game and also averaged a team-best 3.2 assists. He was named a third team All-ACC selection on Monday.
Georgia Tech won the ACC tournament last March, toppling Florida State in the final and earning its first NCAA Tournament bid under Pastner.