The college basketball world and the North Florida Ospreys saw for themselves Saturday just how good Spalding could be. Playing time opened up as a result of the knee injury to freshman Deng Adel. Spalding scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. As if that weren’t enough, he also led the team with 12 deflections, a stat Pitino puts up at the top of his list.
Pitino talked about Spalding and the importance of keeping him here in Louisville even after other schools found out about him, “I knew Ray was a special basketball player from the time we recruited him. Most people in this town didn’t know it – it’s interesting – fortunately for us, Duke found out too late because they made a real big push, but if it wasn’t for his mom being so loyal to us, he could’ve visited other places, but his mom told him he was going to Louisville and Ray said he wanted to go to Louisville. They saw the potential. When you look at skills, wingspan, the way they run, the way he can pass and his mind for the game, it’s pretty incredible. For a 6-9 guy to run like that, wow.”
Damion Lee showed why he was the fourth leading scorer in the nation last season, leading the Cardinals with 24 points. Lee made 10 of his 16 shots and also dished out 3 assists to go along with his 7 rebounds.
For the third straight game U of L shot the ball extremely well. They have made over 50 percent of their shots in every game, a far cry from last season when shooting over 40 percent was a good game for them.
The only two players that didn’t shoot it well was the backcourt tandem of Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider. However, they are impacting the game in other ways. Lewis did score 15 points, but it was his 4 rebounds from the guard position that helped U of L.
Snider scored nine points on only 4 – 14 shooting, but made the offense run smoothly by dishing out 6 assists and grabbing 4 rebounds.
The Cardinals also used their size to their advantage getting, not only strong play inside from Spalding, but from Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang. Onuaku had a stat-stuffer type of game getting 6 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 1 blocked shot.
Mathiang was very active off of the Louisville bench scoring 8 points and getting 3 big blocks.
The Cardinals return to the KFC Yum Center on Tuesday evening to take on St. Francis-Brooklyn.