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In stamping itself as an early contender in what appears to be a down year for the Atlantic Coast Conference, Louisville has made defense its calling card.

That’s why coach Chris Mack is concerned about the Cardinals’ recent trend as they prepare to host North Carolina State on Wednesday night in Louisville.

The Cardinals (10-5, 4-1 ACC) are coming off their first conference loss, a 79-70 decision on Saturday at Florida State. The Seminoles hit 7 of 16 first-half 3-pointers and shot 52.8 percent in the half, putting Louisville in a hole it couldn’t dig out of.

“We’ve talked about from the very beginning of the year that defense can carry you, when you have moments where you can’t score or the other team’s doing a great job defensively and you can’t move the point total up,” said Mack.

“And our defense in those instances, on a few games, hasn’t been good enough. I don’t like what we’ve been the last two or three games. … We need to shore it up and shore it up quickly.”

The Wolfpack (8-8, 1-4) seem like a foe that should allow the Cardinals to do just that. They’re making just 41.6 percent from the field, 295th in Division I, and have just one player among their top six scorers shooting better than 39.4 percent.

And Dereon Seabron wasn’t able to carry the load when NC State last played Louisville on Dec. 4 in Raleigh, making only 4 of 14 shots and managing just 11 points — nine under his average.

Seabron was more like himself Saturday night when the Wolfpack fell to Clemson 70-65, gunning in a game-high 27 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He’s third in the conference in scoring at 20.1 ppg.

“I thought we played hard,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said of the loss, “but we gave up too many points in the paint.”

This will be the 25th meeting of the teams. Louisville leads the all-time series 14-10, taking seven of the nine matchups at home.

–Field Level Media