Rick Pitino’s Louisville teams have always prided themselves on strong defense. Whether it is man-to-man, zone, or the press their goal is to make it a nightmare for the opponent to put the ball in the basket. Tonight their defense was a nightmare for Savannah State. The No. 6 ranked Cardinals nearly pitched a shutout in the first half holding the visiting Tigers to seven points.
The first basket made by the Tigers came on a free throw by Saadiq Muhammad with 4:02 remaining. Their first field goal came with 1:23 left. They finished the half shooting an anemic 2 for 26 while falling behind 41 – 7.
Savannah State came in to the game on a two game winning streak, but ran into a buzz saw. The Louisville defense dominated the first half by blocking six shots and forcing 15 turnovers.
In describing what he felt about the blowout Pitino said, “Well, if you coach long enough you see a lot of different things. That was a very unusual game tonight, to say the least. I thought our pressure was good. I thought our zone-man was very good, and the other team just had one of those nights where they could not hit a shot. They are not as bad as they played tonight. It was just one of those unfortunate things for them.”
Montrezl Harrell led the way for the Cardinals with 15 points and 9 rebounds. He continued his solid free throw shooting with a 7 for 8 performance.
Chinanu Onuaku continued his strong early season performance finishing with 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 blocks.
Pitino was asked what he would take away from this game and about watching the film. He said, “I always love watching film and breaking it up. This will be the first time since I’ve been at Louisville that I will not watch the game film. I will not watch it. I want them to concentrate to Cleveland State. We always do edits every game, this will be the first time… we will not watch that game. It will be false security. You get really nothing out of this and you feel bad for the other team more than anything else.”
Cleveland State is the Cardinals’ next opponent in the Global Sports Showcase Wednesday at the KFC Yum Center. The Vikings are 2 – 2 and were defeated by Savannah State in overtime 87 – 83 last week.