Louisville coach Rick Pitino wanted three things from his team for the rest of the season. He wanted his team to show “unbridled enthusiasm”. Not only enthusiasm from the players, but from the coaches as well. He wanted the Cardinals to stop thinking they are like last year’s championship team. Finally, he wanted Wayne Blackshear to step up his game.
Pitino saw all three of these goals achieved tonight as the Cardinals rolled past the Cougars 91 – 52.
“Our enthusiasm was off the charts and we were ready to play the moment the ball went up”, Pitino said after the game. The most significant showing was that of junior Wayne Blackshear. Coming off the bench for the first time this season Blackshear led Louisville with a career high 23 points on 8 of 10 shooting. He tied his career high with making 5 of his 6 three point attempts. He not only scored the ball, but also led Louisville with 7 rebounds.
Pitino wanted to bring Blackshear off of the bench because of his propensity to get into early foul trouble through Louisville’s first 16 games. Pitino saw him being more valuable later than early in the game. Pitino said of Blackshear’s early foul trouble, “what happens is you lose your aggressiveness”.
Tonight Wayne was aggressive in every facet of the game which will be key to Louisville’s success the rest of the season.
Louisville used unbelievable three point shooting in the first half to put the game out of reach early. The Cardinals scorched the nets in the first half making 11 of 15 three pointers for 73.3 percent. They were 21 of 30 overall for 70 percent in the first half.
The Cardinals solid passing led to their great shooting getting open looks the entire night. They assisted on 23 of their 34 field goals. Pitino was pleased with 23 assists and only 9 turnovers.
Terry Rozier started in place of injured guard Chris Jones. He struggled shooting the ball, but led the Cardinals with 8 assists while committing just one turnover. Pitino said after the game that Jones will not be back for Louisville’s next game Saturday against Connecticut.
Houston fell to 10 – 7 on the year with tonight’s loss. They have played tough against two of the conference leaders beating Connecticut and losing to conference leader Cincinnati by just one point.
They were outplayed and outmatched from the start against the Cardinals. TaShawn Thomas led the Cougars with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Louisville has a short time to get ready for their next game. They travel to Storrs to face Connecticut Saturday evening at 9:00. They will be facing one of the nation’s best backcourts in Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. It has always been a tough and exciting matchup when the Cardinals and the Huskies meet up. Saturday’s game should be no different.