Signs of trouble for Louisville

Russ Smith has admitted to struggling to adjust to the new rule changes. Mark Zerof/USA TODAY Sports

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- There were built-in excuses for the Louisville Cardinals' pre-Thanksgiving loss to North Carolina, with three players who’d spent most of the preseason inactive due to injury or suspension. However, there was no justification Saturday night as Russ Smith and his Louisville teammates left Rupp Arena with a second lackluster performance this season.

Chris Jones was supposed to slide into the role vacated by Peyton Siva, and Montrezl Harrell was slated to do the same and fill the void left by the early departure of Gorgui Dieng. Instead, this team bears little resemblance to the one that cut down the nets this past April and hardly has the look and feel of a team that could be any sort of threat to defend its national title.