LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Week-long breaks for final exams initially created different results between No. 11 Louisville and visiting Eastern Kentucky, which seemed much sharper from the layoff. The Cardinals shed their early rust to post the all-around effort they will need for a daunting quartet of ranked teams including an archrival.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Week-long breaks for final exams initially created different results between No. 11 Louisville and visiting Eastern Kentucky, which seemed much sharper from the layoff.
The Cardinals shed their early rust to post the all-around effort they will need for a daunting quartet of ranked teams including an archrival.
Donovan Mitchell scored 15 points, Quentin Snider added 13 and Louisville used a 20-0 run to close the first half and dominate Eastern Kentucky 87-56 on Saturday for its fifth straight victory.
Seeking a good tuneup for next week's rivalry game against No. 6 Kentucky, the Cardinals (10-1) shook off a sluggish start and 12-6 deficit to outscore EKU 30-4 the rest of the half and hold the Colonels scoreless for the final 7 minutes.
Louisville never looked back en route to its 14th championship in 15 years in the Billy Minardi Classic, named for the brother-in-law of Cardinals coach Rick Pitino who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.
"We started out a little slow because we broke down on what we practiced," Pitino said. "I think that gave the other team some momentum and confidence. But once we moved the basketball, once we stayed with our principles of what we wanted to do, we played much better."
The Cardinals shot 48 percent from the field and owned the boards 47-31 in dominating the first game between the schools since 2004. They blocked a season-high 14 shots and had 19 assists, including a season-high six by Snider.
"We did a lot of good things," said Snider, who made 3 of 5 from behind the arc and 5 of 7 overall.
"Our bigs blocked shots. They really protected the rim real well and passed the ball real well. That's how we got going."
Mangok Mathiang matched a career best with 13 rebounds for Louisville, which follows Kentucky with matchups against No. 13 Virginia, No. 9 Indiana and No. 21 Notre Dame.
Jaylen Johnson and Tony Hicks each had 10 points for the Cardinals.
Nick Mayo had 15 points and Asante Gist 12 for the Colonels (6-6), who didn't reach 20 points until the 16:39 mark of the second half and shot 36 percent.
THE BIG PICTURE
Eastern Kentucky: After their strong start the Colonels were soon overwhelmed by Louisville. They trailed by as many as 36 points with 8:34 remaining and needed a big second half just to finish at 36 percent. The high-scoring tandem of Mayo and Gist combined for 10-of-27 shooting and were held below their per-game scoring averages of 19.3 and 14.4 points, respectively.
"We're such a young team that I've got to make sure it doesn't affect us," said coach Dan McHale, a former Louisville staffer and assistant. "We probably won't watch a lot of the horrific stuff (from the video). ... We're just evolving right now."
Louisville: Snider's eight straight points, including two 3s, helped snap the Cardinals out of their initial offensive funk. He has scored in double digits in consecutive games. Anas Mahmoud returned from a three-game absence (concussion) with six points, five blocks and four rebounds. Louisville has held four of its last five opponents to 36 percent shooting or lower.
Consecutive blowouts could push Louisville into the Top 10 just in time to face in-state rival Kentucky.
One early block was all the 7-foot Mahmoud needed to feel normal again after sustaining the concussion against Purdue. In fact, he was comfortable enough to take five shots, hit three and try to establish a bigger presence inside.
"When you come back you're always thinking too much because you've been away," he said. "After you get the first touch of the ball and the feeling running up and down the floor, you get comfortable. And the more comfortable I got, the better I played."
Eastern Kentucky: Continues its five-game road swing on Monday at Norfolk State.
Louisville: Hosts No. 6 Kentucky on Wednesday night in the annual showdown for Bluegrass supremacy. The Cardinals have lost three straight in the series.
More AP College Basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org