Clemson punched first at Louisville, but when the Cardinals punched back, the Tigers cowered into the corner.
Clemson jumped out to a 21-12 lead and looked ready to compete for a win that could help turn around their rough conference start. But the Tigers’ defense went away and the offense faltered, as the Cardinals battled back to tie the game at 31 with two minutes to go in the first half.
Louisville then finished the half on a 10-0 run that included two Donovan Mitchell three-pointers in the final 15 seconds that broke the Tigers’ spirit.
The Cardinals never looked back, outscoring Clemson 51-29 in the game’s final 20 minutes.
Mitchell and Deng Adel each scored 18 points to lead Louisville. The Cardinals also got 14 points from V.J. King and 12 apiece from Jaylen Johnson and Mangok Mathiang.
Marcquise Reed led Clemson with 13 points. Donte Grantham (11) and Jaron Blossomgame (10) were the Tigers’ only other double-figure scorers.
Clemson hosts Virginia Tech on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.