Over the past several weeks, the Louisville Cardinals have answered a lot of questions fans and the coaching staff have had about them. They answered another one tonight. Montrezl Harrell picked up his third foul with 19:21 remaining in the game. He then received his fourth foul after picking up a technical foul. Wayne Blackshear then picked up his fourth foul with 18:25 remaining.
South Florida would cut Louisville’s halftime lead to 12, but would get no closer. Mangok Mathiang and Stephan Van Treese were huge factors in Louisville’s win against the Bulls. The two centers combined to score 11 points and grab 14 rebounds.
“I like what Mangok did tonight. He bailed us out of quite a few situations, lots of offensive fouls, so I like the way he played. I thought he did a very good job,” Rick Pitino said.
The Cardinals will need this kind of play from their center position have success heading into the meat of their schedule. Louisville will play at Cincinnati, at Memphis, at SMU, and finish at home against Connecticut.
Louisville was coming off Sunday’s game in which they hit 16 – 30 three point shots. The shots were not falling tonight from outside. The Cardinals finished 3 – 18 from three point range. They showed that they can win when the threes are not falling. They finished 31 – 51 inside the arc for 61 percent.
Russ Smith was one of four Cardinals in double figures finishing with 19 points. Pitino commented after the Rutgers game that Russ was looking to pad his assist total after passing up several open shots. Russ took that to heart tonight and scored 9 points in the first 6:26 of the game. Smith passed Billy Thompson and Wes Unseld on the Cardinals’ all-time scoring list to move into the top ten.
Luke Hancock scored has been one of the Cardinals’ most consistent scorers in conference play. Hancock scored in double figures for the 13th consecutive time. He finished with 16 points.
Montrezl Harrell was having a monster game until he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half. Harrell scored 12 points in the first half. He finished with 14 points on 7 – 9 shooting. Harrell’s emphatic slam early in the game broke the Louisville single season dunk record previously held by Pervis Ellison and Chane Behanan.
Another bright spot for Louisville continues to be the play of freshman guard Terry Rozier. Rozier scored 13 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. He committed only 1 turnover to bring his season total to 15 in 26 games.
Pitino compared Rozier to another great freshman guard, Tyler Ennis. Pitino said, “Tyler Ennis is awesome, plays all 40 minutes, and he is a great, great basketball player; one of the premier players in the country, but he is up here, and I put Terry up here too.”
South Florida was led by an impressive performance from junior forward Victor Rudd. Rudd was the only Bull in double figures with 27 points with several highlight reel dunks. He also corralled 10 rebounds.
Louisville goes on the road Saturday for a nationally televised game against conference rival Cincinnati. The Bearcats beat the Cardinals in the KFC Yum Center January 30th, 69 – 66. The Cardinals trail the Bearcats by one game in the AAC standings.