Thud. Kansas fell to earth Saturday night.
Unranked Louisville punctured the No. 4-ranked Jayhawks' balloon with an 85-78 victory in Allen Fieldhouse.
Louisville, coming off a defeat at Virginia Commonwealth, stunned Kansas by making 13 of its last 17 shots and cashing 32 of 43 free throws.
"It wasn't just poor play on our part," KU coach Roy Williams said after his first loss ever to a non-conference team here. "Louisville gave us a lot of problems. Basically, it was not a very good night for us."
That much was obvious early when the Cardinals, losers three of the last four times out, stormed to a 10-2 lead after the first five minutes and 13-4 after the first six.
MIDWAY THROUGH the first half, Kansas had only two more points (10) than turnovers (8).
"To me," Williams said about Louisville, "they looked more mentally sharp. We were not (sharp), and that was disappointing to me."
Nevertheless, Kansas closed to within four points (36-32) at intermission, then came out smoking to start the second half. KU took its first lead, 37-36, when Alonzo Jamison popped a jumper from the top of the key at 18:19.
At the 15:25 mark, Kansas led 47-42 and appeared well on its way to making the first half nothing more than a bad memory.
Then Louisville caught fire and stormed to leads of as many as seven points before Kansas finally caught the Cards at 76-76 with 2:44 remaining on Rex Walters' three-pointer.
With KU even again and with the sellout throng producing mass decibels, the Jayhawks seemingly had the Cards right where they wanted them. Instead, Kansas collapsed like a house of cards, missing its next six shots including a Walters' layup and an Eric Pauley point-blank stickback and suffered its first loss in 12 starts.
KU'S ONLY points after Walters' tying trey came on an innocuous goal by Adonis Jordan with just one tick left.
"In the last 12 minutes we tried to dig down deep," Williams said, "but we couldn't get the ball to go down."
Louisville could. The Cards missed only four of their last 17 shots. Dwayne Morton, a sophomore who sat out last season under NCAA academic guidelines, was the hottest Louisville player. The 6-6 forward hit five of seven shots in the second half and eight of 10 overall.
"You've got to praise Morton," Williams said. "He hit every tough shot down the stretch. I tried to grab him after the game and tell him."
When the Cardinals weren't connecting from the field, they were potting 'em at the free throw line, notably center Cornelius Holden (10 of 13) and guard Everick Sullivan (10 of 12).
"Holden reminded me of (Duke's Christian) Laettner in the (NCAA) Tournament last year,' Williams said.
Louisville also waxed Kansas on the boards with a 40-30 edge.
"IT DIDN'T seem like there were very many times," Williams said, "when they didn't get two or three cracks at it. It was a tough night on the boards for us."
It was also a tough shooting night for KU's guard tandem of Walters and Jordan. Both went into the game shooting over 60 percent. Walters made all six two-point goals he attempted, but missed six of seven three-pointers. Jordan was one of five from beyond the arc and three for 11 overall.
Inevitably, Williams was asked if the Jayhawks might have been guilty of looking ahead to Monday night's Big Eight Conference opener at Missouri. Williams said no.
"As a staff we haven't said one word about Missouri," he stressed. "Our philosophy is to play 'em as they come. It would be an insult to Louisville to say we looked past them. It's not true. It would be an excuse."
WILLIAMS OFFERED no excuses, but he did profess one wish about Monday night.
"Hopefully, we'll be into it a little more mentally," he said, "than we were tonight."