Few college basketball programs in the country have had as much success over the years than Louisville, which is what makes this season so shocking. The Cardinals are a brutal 2-19 overall and 0-10 in the ACC under first-year coach Kenny Payne, who already is under fire from the fan base. If Louisville is going to win a league game, its best (and potential lone) chance could be Wednesday night as a 2-point home underdog against Georgia Tech.
Just three seasons ago under Chris Mack, Louisville reached No. 1 in the AP poll but has harshly regressed since then. Mack was pushed out in January 2022 in part because of a previous notice of allegations against Louisville, including three alleged violations by the program under Mack.
Payne was hired in March 2022. He was a forward with the Cardinals from 1985 to 1989 and had been an assistant coach with the New York Knicks for two years. Prior to that, he spent 10 years on John Calipari's staff at Kentucky, including six as associate head coach. He was an assistant on the UK team that won a national championship in 2012.
Payne's hiring was largely celebrated by the fan base, but sentiment has turned against the coach. Louisville used to sell out every game, and that's decidedly not the case this year. The school's two wins were at home over Western Kentucky and Florida A&M but it also lost at home to the likes of Bellarmine (which is in Louisville), Wright State and Lipscomb.
No ACC team has gone winless in ACC play since the 2017-2018 season, when Pittsburgh went 0-18. Louisville has never gone winless in any league. The Cardinals have come no closer than eight points (an 80-72 loss at home to Pittsburgh) to winning any of their conference games so far.
One of Louisville's most talented players is 6-foot-10 Tennessee transfer Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, but he hasn't played since Jan. 11 due to a foot injury and is doubtful tonight. He averages 7.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. On Jan. 19, Louisville added freshman big man Emmanuel Okorafor to the roster. The Nigeria native was eligible immediately after arriving from NBA Academy Africa and made his college debut Saturday at Notre Dame with eight points, five rebounds and one block in 18 minutes.
Georgia Tech (8-13, 1-10 ACC) enters on a seven-game skid, the past five by double digits, with its lone ACC victory a 76-70 home upset of Miami on Jan. 10. The Yellow Jackets were embarrassed Saturday on their home floor, 86-43, by Duke.
Louisville has won three straight in this series and 12 of the last 13.
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