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Virginia battles Louisville, hopes home cooking serves up a victory

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All three of Virginia’s losses this season have been by 22 or more points, including two of the Cavaliers’ last three games.

Those defeats all came away from Charlottesville, Va., where the Cavaliers (10-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are 8-0 heading into Wednesday night’s game against Louisville (5-7, 0-1), a team that knows all about road struggles.

The Cardinals have lost 21 straight away from home. They haven’t won a true road game in two years, dating back to a 67-64 decision at Georgia Tech on Jan. 2, 2022.

Virginia’s most recent lopsided setback was a 76-54 decision on Saturday at Notre Dame. The Cavaliers also lost 65-41 to Wisconsin at the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Nov. 20 and fell 77-54 at Memphis on Dec. 19.

Reece Beekman scored 15 points and Ryan Dunn had 13 in South Bend, but the Cavaliers shot 38.2 percent overall and were just 2-for-11 from 3-point range. The Fighting Irish shot 51 percent, knocked down 11 3-pointers and had a plus-13 edge in rebounding (40-27).

Virginia fell behind 13-0, trailed 41-24 at halftime and never recovered against Notre Dame.

“We’ve gotten beat pretty handily, for sure, three times and haven’t been able to hang in there,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said.

“And whether it’s a hot team or you’re playing a team that’s mature and good and experienced, you’ve just got to find ways (to overcome adversity) … but it’s going to take a real connected, unified effort. First defensively, because when the defense goes, it’s not good.”

The defense wasn’t good for Louisville last time out.

The well-rested Cardinals have been idle since a 95-76 loss to then-No. 9 Kentucky on Dec. 21. The rival Wildcats shot 51.5 percent from the field and sank 12 3-pointers to offset big efforts from Louisville’s Skyy Clark (20 points) and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (16 points, 11 rebounds).

“We affected them some. But as it wore on, we didn’t quite keep it going,” Louisville coach Kenny Payne said after that loss. “But as it wore on, we didn’t quite keep it going. We stopped defending the way we should, and we didn’t share the ball like we should have.”

–Field Level Media

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