UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Jeff Walz knows it will take a near-perfect effort for anyone to beat Connecticut. For the third time this season, his Louisville Cardinals came up short on Monday night.
Shoni Schimmel scored 20 points, but a lull at the end of the first half sent No. 3 Louisville to a 72-52 loss to the top-ranked Huskies in the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship.
"It's going to take 40 minutes of very, very good basketball in order for anybody to beat them," Walz said. "That's one thing I've been preaching to our players the entire time. You can't play for 20, can't play for 30, it takes 40 minutes of basketball."
The Cardinals (30-4) got off to a slow start. UConn scored the first eight points of the game before the fans barely had settled into their seats.
Louisville trailed 28-20 with 6 minutes left in the first half, but the Huskies stormed to an 18-point lead at the break, basically putting the game away.
It was the 16th straight loss by the Cardinals to the Huskies. Still Walz believes his team can take down UConn if they do meet again in the NCAA tournament.
"We know that we very well could play them again and I believe we can beat them," he said. "What do you play the game for? ... We show up to play the game to win. Nobody thinks they could be beat. If that's the case, save a bunch of money don't have the tournament and give them the trophy now. Everyone thought the same thing about Baylor last year."
Auriemma also knows that the tide can turn between the schools.
"I'm not naive enough to think that we can play Louisville twice a year for the next 10 years and they never beat us," Auriemma said. "They are too good a team and he's too good a coach for that to happen."
Walz hopes that he doesn't have to see UConn again until potentially the Final Four. The Cardinals are hosting a regional in the NCAA tournament and there is a chance that UConn could be sent down there as a one seed.