Jordan Nwora entered Wednesday night as the frontrunner to win ACC Player of the Year on the team leading the conference while sitting on a 10-game winning streak.
Put another way, the Cardinals had spent the last six weeks reminding us why we all thought they could go out and win a national title in Chris Mack’s second season on the job.
Then Wednesday night happened.
Nwora scored just two points while shooting 1-for-6 from the floor as Louisville lost at Georgia Tech, 64-58. The Yellow Jackets are now 11-13 overall and 6-8 in the ACC in a year where they are ineligible to play in the postseason and Josh Pastner is coaching for the right to remain head coach.
So yes, this is a bad loss, one that could cost Louisville an outright ACC regular season title. The Cardinals are now just a half-game in front of Duke in the league standings, but they are functionally tied; both teams have a pair of losses.
But the bigger picture here is that this is yet another game where Nwora no-showed. He has had a habit of doing that this season. He finished with just eight points on 2-for-10 shooting in the loss at Kentucky when he turned himself into a decoy. He had just six points on 3-for-12 shooting in the win at Duke when he was used intentionally as a decoy. He was 4-for-16 from the floor in the loss to Texas Tech in Madison Square Garden.
And that’s worrisome for the Cardinals as we head towards the postseason in a sport where one loss sends you packing.
Overreacting to one game and one off-night from anyone is silly in a season that lasts five months. Everyone has bad nights. Seton Hall lost at home to Creighton tonight because Myles Powell was 0-for-10 from three until hitting a meaningless triple in the final seconds. Cassius Winston’s off-night on Tuesday nearly cost Michigan State a 20-point lead at Illinois.
But with Nwora, the disappearing act seems to happen a little more frequently than Louisville fans should feel comfortable with.