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Turnovers, poor shooting dooms No. 16 Louisville in loss at Clemson

Rick Pitino

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Clemson, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)


Jaron Blossomgame finished with 17 points, nine boards, three steals and three blocks as Clemson upset No. 16 Louisville, 66-62, at home on Sunday afternoon.

All of a sudden, the Tigers look like a team that might end up making some noise in the ACC this season They’re now 3-1 in the league with consecutive wins over Syracuse, Florida State and, now, Louisville.

The story of this game, however, was the play of those Cardinals.

Louisville scored the first eight points of the game, but Clemson would outscore them 31-17 over the final 17 minutes of the half; with just over seven minutes left in the game, the Cardinals were still down 47-36.

Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, Louisville’s two leading scorers, were the two biggest culprits. Lewis was 3-for-19 from the floor. Lee was 2-for-12. They were a combined 1-for-18 from three. It’s tough to win games when you’re two best offensive weapons can’t buy a bucket. As a team, the Cardinals missed 18 of their first 19 threes, shot just over 35 percent from the floor, committed 17 turnovers and allowed Clemson to get to the charity stripe 44 times.

This is how bad it was for Louisville: They grabbed 24 offensive rebounds and held Clemson to 32.3 percent shooting from the floor and they needed a late flurry just to make the final scoreline as close as it was.

Now to be fair, much of the “blame” for Louisville’s poor performance on Sunday can be pinned on Clemson and head coach Brad Brownell. They took away what Louisville wanted to do offensively and made life difficult for Lewis and Lee. But the Cardinals also had their fair share of unforced mistakes late in the game, whether it be a missed layup or a blown defensive assignment or another in the seemingly endless line of open threes that went clanging off the rim.

This was about as poorly as Louisville can play, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, and they were down by a single possession in the final minute on the road. Road wins in league play are never easy, and this is a perfect example of that.