Furman Louisville Basketball

Louisville forward Jae'Lyn Withers (24) shoots over Furman forward Jalen Slawson (20) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- It's way too soon to judge Louisville's 2021-22 prospects, but let's put it this way: the early results don't look promising. To put it mildly.

The Cardinals (1-1) lost a November home game Friday night for the first time in a half-century, with Furman of the Southern Conference claiming an 80-72 overtime victory in the KFC Yum! Center. That snapped a 59-game winning streak in November home games, including 46 in the Yum! UofL's last November home defeat came on Nov. 30, 1972, against Vanderbilt, 66-57.

The embarrassing defeat by Furman came on the heels of an unimpressive 72-60 win over Southern of the SWAC three days earlier.

Both those games are what's called in the trade "buy" games, which simply put means paying a vastly inferior team from a low-level conference to play a team from a Power 5 conference on its homecourt, get their brains beat out and leave with a nice check.

Those are the kinds of games under Denny Crum and Rick Pitino that fans could count on the Cards dominating from opening tip to final buzzer as warmups for tougher opponents down the road in conference play. No more.

After the Furman debacle, acting coach Mike Pegues, who is filling in for Chris Mack during his six-game suspension, questioned the Cards' toughness.

"I am incredibly disappointed," Pegues said. "It's unfortunate to lose a buy game to anybody, even an NCAA Tournament team. We were not tough enough. Hopefully, this is a wakeup call to our guys that we must be much better on a daily basis, or it will continue to happen. This is obviously going to have to change. We need to improve in every facet."

In their first two games, the Cards have been guilty of multiple shortcomings, which makes Monday night's 8 o'clock game in the Yum! against Navy (1-1) anything but the sure win it looked like before the season began and reality slapped the Cards in the face.

"It's a bump in the road," guard Noah Locke said. "I can't really say, if Mack was here it's not gonna happen. It's not about who's coaching, it's about us playing the game. We've got to stay together."

Pegues ticked off a laundry list of physical and mental sins, including stagnant ball movement, poor defense, especially behind the arc, and lackadaisical rebounding. He didn't mention UofL's three-point shooting, but he should have. It's been terrible despite efforts to fix it over the offseason.

Mack fired two assistants and brought in an offensive guru, Ross McMains, to juice up Louisville's plodding offense and also recruited players he said would improve the Cards' perimeter efficiency. So far, the faster pace and new personnel haven't translated into better results.

In fact, UofL has been even worse from distance than last season, when it was one of the country's poorest at 30.8 percent. After going 7-of-29 against Furman, the Cards are shooting a dreadful 24.6 percent (14-57) from beyond the arc. By contrast, their foes are hitting .385 (20-52).

The six newcomers on Louisville's roster are a combined 10-of-39 (25.6 percent) and El Ellis and Mason Faulkner haven't hit a three yet. Locke, who spent three seasons at Florida and is in the school's top 10 in career three-point shooting (79-183, 43.2 percent), led UofL against Furman with 20 points, but needed 19 shots to do it and has hit just 7-of-21 threes for 33.3 percent. Matt Cross, who shot 40 percent from outside in one season at Miami, should also be one of the Cards' best marksmen, but he has taken just four threes and played only 11 minutes Friday.

"I feel like we're getting good looks, we just gotta make em. We just gotta put 'em in," Locke said.

Furman hadn't beaten an ACC team since 2000 and Navy looks like an even more dangerous opponent after going 1-1 against two teams picked to finish in the ACC's upper division. The Midshipmen stunned No. 25 Virginia 66-58 last week, decimating the Cavaliers' proud pack line defense similar to Louisville's by hitting 11-of-21 three-pointers, including 8-of-11 in the first half. Senior guard John Carter Jr. made 5-of-8 and junior guard Sean Yoder was 3-of-3.

But in a 77-57 loss Friday night to another ACC team, Virginia Tech, Navy made only 3-of-25 from distance.

"We were a step behind in everything they did," Navy coach Ed DeChellis said. "We just couldn't guard them and they just scored, scored and scored."

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