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January 26, 2013

FAST REACT: Louisville loses third straight

After winning its first game as the No. 1 team in the country, Louisville has lost three straight games including today's 53-51 loss at Georgetown. CardinalSports.com's Howie Lindsey filed his quick thoughts after the game.

Louisville has lost three games in a row for the first time since 2010. Louisville's first loss in the streak was to No. 3 Syracuse at home. Then UofL lost to Villanova on the road Monday night. Today's loss at Georgetown makes it three in a row.

"The Villanova game is the only one that really bothered me," Pitino said. "The Syracuse game was a little like the Duke game, they bothered me because we gave it away. We gave away the Villanova game because of free throws and that bothered me."

Pitino continued, "This is the Big East. We don't panic. Some people panic, but we don't panic. We know we're judged in March. We don't like losing, we're fighting hard, but all of college basketball is judged in March."

How far will the Cardinals fall in the next poll? Will Louisville still be in the top 15? Top 20? More importantly, can Louisville get off its slide Monday night against Pittsburgh.

Louisville's final possession began after a turnover by Otto Porter with 1:06 left. The Cardinals got the ball to Chane Behanan on the low block, but he was stripped as he jumped to shoot. Louisville regained the possession in the scramble for the ball and used its final timeout with 36 seconds left.

With five seconds left on the shot clock, Louisville got the ball to Russ Smith who dribbled around the perimeter to try to create space, but he bricked a challenged shot with just over 30 seconds left.

A Georgetown turnover gave Louisville another shot to win with 29 seconds left. The Cardinals held the ball for 26 seconds before Peyton Siva started to drive and pulled up for a jumper from 17 feet. Siva's jumper rimmed out and Porter snagged the rebound.

Rick Pitino spoke about his decision to have Siva take the final shot despite Siva's 0-1 performance up to that point.

"Well, at the end it was either Peyton or Russ and I felt Peyton was the freshest because he hadn't played," Pitino said. "He's also the best shooter on the team, he's also a great free throw shooter and nobody was really on tonight. He got a good shot up, it was a 15 foot shot and that is all you can ask."

Behanan fouled and Porter hit 1-2 from the line with 1.4 seconds left for the final margin.

Louisville was down 45-39 with 10 minutes left. A 4-1 run cut the margin to three points two possessions later. A pull-up, step-back jumper by Markel Starks put Georgetown back ahead by five, but a 1-2 trip to the line by Behanan and a steal by Siva led to a layup by Smith cut the Hoya lead back to two points.

A dunk by Dieng tied the score at 48 with 5:29 left. The score was tied again at 50, and Georgetown pushed ahead 52-50. Behanan hit 1-2 from the line with just over two minutes left.

Neither team scored for the rest of the game, but Louisville had two opportunities to win at the end including Siva's jumper.

Louisville's leading scorer, Smith, did not start against Georgetown. He checked in after the under-16 minute media timeout, but didn't seem a part of the offense for portions of the first half.

The shake-up in the starting lineup didn't result in a spark on the court. Georgetown led by as many as nine points in the first half, and the Cardinals' normally tough defense let the Hoyas hit 8 of their first 10 shots.

Smith was more effective in the second half, and he finished with 12 points on 4 of 9 shooting. He was 4 of 4 from the foul line.

After the game Pitino said he expects to continue starting Luke Hancock instead of Russ Smith.

"I am because the main thing is to get everybody passing the basketball and moving the basketball, and as his shooting percentage improves - and I like Russ coming off the bench," Pitino said.

Siva continued to struggle with foul trouble. He sat half of the first half with two fouls, and picked up is third foul just over two minutes into the second half.

Siva reached in with 10:25 left in the second half and was whistled for his fourth foul. He immediately went to the bench again.

Pitino on Peyton: "He's one of the smartest players I have ever coached, but he does some of the dumbest things I've ever seen. That's why I don't gamble with him. I would love to play him, but just like that play - he knows he's in foul trouble, he couldn't get the steal, and so - he's just so aggressive that he does that. But he's an awesome young man, we just have to get him to do good things."

The senior team captain didn't pick up a fifth foul, but his defense was effected the rest of the game.

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