The 18th ranked Louisville Cardinals came in to Saturday night’s game in Storrs against the unranked Connecticut Huskies in need of a signature win. They accomplished that feat in a very tough and sometimes hostile Gampel Pavilion beating the Huskies 76 – 64.
Montrezl Harrell played perhaps his best game of the season getting his 4th double-double of the season. Harrell scored 18 points, grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, and blocked 3 shots. Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been telling his young sophomore to play with more confidence. Harrell took him to task hitting two 15 foot jumpers and a couple of hook shots in the post.
“I’m more comfortable. It’s about getting reps up…different things to improve my game and improve my team”, Harrell said.
Two matchups were spoken about leading up to the game. The matchup between UConn senior guard Shabazz Napier and Louisville senior guard Russ Smith. That matchup lived up to its billing as Napier scored 30 points and Smith 23 points. The other matchup was Deandre Daniels and Harrell. Daniels got in early foul trouble and never got into the flow of the game. He finished with only 3 points and 4 rebounds.
Perhaps the most significant improvement in Louisville’s game was their ability to rebound the ball. Louisville outrebounded UConn 45 to 30. They won the rebounding battle for the second consecutive game. “Every time we outrebound our opponents, we win 95 percent of our games”, said Pitino.
It has only been two games since Louisville’s loss to long-time rival Memphis, but you can sense the “unbridled enthusiasm” Pitino has asked his team to show. This enthusiasm was on full display against the Huskies as the Cardinals trailed only once. The team’s communication was better on offense and defense.
Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie was ejected from the game with 13:02 left in the second half for arguing a no-call with a referee. Wayne Blackshear made contact with Niels Giffey in front of the UConn bench and no foul was called. Ollie went ballistic over the no-call and ran down the sideline to protest the call. He was given his first technical for running down the sideline and the second for coming on to the court to protest the call.
Louisville made only two of the four technical free throws, but UConn was never able to get back in the game. Louisville answered every UConn run to win its second consecutive game.
Louisville improved to 16 – 3 overall and 5 – 1 in the AAC. UConn fell to 14 – 4 overall and 2 – 3 in the AAC.
Louisville returns to action Wednesday at 7:00 as they travel to South Florida to face the Bulls in an AAC matchup.