This past week was one Rick Pitino and his No. 17 Louisville Cardinals would like to forget. The past several days have been dominated by the news that former starting point guard Chris Jones was charged with two counts of rape and two counts of sodomy.
Saturday’s game against Florida State definitely helped the Cardinals move forward. Louisville completely dominated the entire game, cruising to an 81 – 59 win in Tallahassee.
Pitino was very pleased with the win, “It was a terrific win for us; I think we responded as a team should respond to a difficult situation. We played great team basketball for the third time this year.”
With Terry Rozier having an off-night offensively, the Cardinals would need others to step up. They got it in the play of reserve guard Anton Gill. Gill came in to the game averaging only 2.4 points and 9.6 minutes per game. He only played 12 minutes after fouling out, but hit all five of his shots, four of which were threes, leading the Cardinal reserves with 14 points.
Mangok Mathiang has struggled for much of the season. He struggled on the offensive end against the Seminoles, but did what coach Pitino has always preached. Don’t let your offensive struggles dictate other parts of your game. Mathiang finished with a team-high nine rebounds and also dished out two assists.
Rozier struggled offensively, making only 3 of his 14 shots. However, he dished out a career-high nine assists and also had six steals. “The thing that I love about tonight’s performance is that Terry Rozier had a bad night offensively and it didn’t affect other areas of his game. Tonight he had nine assists and six steals and played a great point guard’s game. His growth has been amazing.”
Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell scored 18 and 16 respectively. Blackshear led the Cardinals in scoring and also played a solid all-around game with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks.
Louisville never let Florida State get any sort of momentum going leading from the opening tip. The Cardinals held the Seminoles scoreless for nearly seven minutes to open the game, scoring the first ten points of the game. Their lead soared to as high as 26 with ten minutes to play.
Florida State’s leading scorer, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who scored an unbelievable 30 points in the final 4:38 in the Seminoles last game, was held to 12 points on only 5 of 16 from the field.
Easy wins like this one are hard to come by in conference play. The fact that U of L won this one so easily is important heading into their next two games. Both games are at the KFC Yum Center, but against No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 2 Virginia. Both games will go a long way in determining what seed the Cardinals will get come tournament time.