The 19th ranked Louisville Cardinals’ basketball team continued its run of 20 of dominating performances by rolling over Western Kentucky 78 – 56. However, it came at a strong cost with the loss of junior center, Mangok Mathiang. Mathiang will be out six to eight weeks after suffering a broken foot.
Pitino talked about the significance of the loss, “Not only is he the best physical player—defensively and offensively—but he talks the most. We can replace the physical stuff—it is the talking. You replace him with a guy like Ray (Spalding) who doesn’t talk, with a guy like Jaylen (Johnson) who doesn’t talk, with Anas (Mahmoud) who doesn’t talk, with Matz (Stockman) that doesn’t talk. That is the biggest problem we will have. Not with the physical part—but with talking and knowing the schemes.”
Offense has been the strong part of Louisville’s game throughout the first nine games of the season. Defense has been Pitino’s biggest concern. They made significant improvements Saturday especially in the first half as they jumped out to a 34 – 16 halftime lead. The Hilltoppers only shot 33 percent in the first half and grabbed only three offensive rebounds.
Quentin Snider continued his strong play at the point guard position leading the Cardinals with 16 points. He also had four rebounds and four assists.
Damion Lee and Trey Lewis each scored 15 for U of L. Lee had a solid all-around game with six rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
Starting center, Chinanu Onuaku, controlled the paint finishing with a double-double, 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Western Kentucky put a scare into Louisville to start the second half as they went on a 19 – 8 run to cut U of L’s lead to seven at 42 – 35. Lee and Lewis then scored 12 of Louisville’s next 14 points to put the Cardinals up by 18.
The Hilltoppers came into the game averaging nine threes made per game. Louisville’s strong three point defense held them to only 2 of 18 from the three point line.
The Minardi Classic begins Tuesday at the KFC Yum Center. Louisville will play UMKC in the first game. UMKC is coached by former Cardinals’ assistant Kareem Richardson.