How do you know when Rick Pitino is livid? When he takes his jacket off, and he certainly had reason to be. While the game was poorly officiated, Louisville’s loss to West Virginia wasn’t without fault from the Cards. The out of bounds call was very questionable, and Preston Knowles’ foul with .6 seconds left was excessive.
Yet, when the Cardinals had a chance to decide the games themselves. Peyton Siva has to step up and make both foul shots in end-game situations. Also, Knowles pulled up for the game winning shot so early. Louisville has had so much success this season driving the ball in the closing seconds why couldn’t Knowles or Siva push it to the basket. It was quite the departure for Knowles, who for the first time in a long time looked selfish.
Knowles put the game on his shoulders when he didn’t have to. He could have given Siva the drive. If he wanted someone to take a big three, Kyle Kuric was shooting 5 of 6 from behind the arc and had the team high 21 points. Its disappointing to see Louisville self-destruct during the final play, something they have been lauded for all year.
The Cardinals were absolutely demolished on the boards by the Mountaineers. Pitino’s four guard lineup never had control of the game and wasn’t even shooting well in the first half. After Stephan Van Treese stepped in for the second half, Louisville made leaps on the rebounding front. It was Van Treese’s best performance as a Cardinal and Pitino will be looking for similar performances in the absence of Rakeem Buckles due to his knee injury.
This loss doesn’t severely damage Louisville’s tourney portfolio. West Virginia has now defeated seven ranked teams and will be the sixth seed in the conference tourney. The loss won’t hurt the Cards’ RPI too badly, but to guarantee a 4-seed UofL needs to win at least its first match-up at the Big East Championship next week. Louisville still has the third seed double bye secured at Madison Square Garden.