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Virginia rally comes up short; falls 80-73 to Louisville

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Forgive me if you’ve heard this before: Virginia loses a close one.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

A big second half rally by the Virginia Cavaliers comes up just short as the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals are able to hold off the Hoos with a 80-73 victory. For the streaking Cardinals, it was their 10th straight win in a row, while Virginia snapped a three-game win streak in ACC play.

Both Tomas Woldetensae and Kihei Clark put up career high scoring efforts. Woldtensae put up 27 points, shooting 70% from beyond the arc, while Clark contributed 23, including 4-6 from three.

The Cardinals came out shooting red hot, hitting six of their first seven three-point attempts, all in the first 5:13 of the game. They finished the half with eight threes, shooting 53.3% from beyond the arc and 60% from the field at halftime.

Though down 44-30 at the half, Virginia’s woes weren’t the standard offensive deficiencies and have lamented all season, shooting 52% from the field and 42.9% from downtown. Instead, it was the Cavalier defense that showed weakness in the first half, as the Cards bigs just had their way with Jay Huff. Couple that with five turnovers to Louisville’s two, and that’s a recipe for a tough first half.

It was Virginia who came out in the second half firing on all cylinders, outpacing the Cards 14-7 in the first six minutes of the half. Woldetensae sparked the Cavaliers offense, putting up six threes in the second half, finishing with seven in total.

Right after Virginia took its first lead of the second half, and first in the game since the opening seconds, Louisville went on a 6-0 run to take the lead for good.

It was by far the best offensive performance the Cavaliers have had all season. Virginia actually shot better than Louisville, 53.1% to 51.0% overall, and both teams got red hot from beyond the arc. The Hoos shot 11-22 from downtown (50%), while Louisville put up 9-22 (40.9%).

But it was offensive rebounds and second-chance points that separated them two teams. Louisville’s bigs dominated all night long, ultimately pulling in 8 offensive rebounds and 15 second-chance points. Virginia was only able to secure 3 offensive rebounds for just 4 second-chance points.

Virginia’s 73 points are the highest its scored all season long — previously just 65 points, on four separate occasions.

Virginia returns home on Tuesday to host Notre Dame, certainly a winnable game as the Hoos continue to build their tournament resume as we enter mid-February. Tip-off is at 9:00 p.m. and the game will be on ESPN2.