Rick Pitino heaped high praise for his former assistant Kevin Keatts before the game and even more after the No. 4 ranked Louisville Cardinals 68 – 57 win over visiting UNCW Seahawks. Pitino said, “I’m real proud of Kevin Keatts, for his team. You like to see that. They really deserved a better fate than that because they really outplayed us.”
Pitino was not in the mood to talk after the game. His post-game press conference lasted less than two minutes. His most telling statement, “I’m really disappointed in our basketball team, but they made us look bad so you’ve got to give all the credit to them.”
The game started slow for the Cardinals as UNCW jumped out to a 4 – 0 lead. The slow start led to Pitino calling a quick timeout. Wayne Blackshear then scored Louisville’s first basket 3:14 into the game.
Montrezl Harrell’s strong inside play helped push the Cardinals’ halftime lead to 32 – 24. Harrell scored nine first half points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
The second half started out much better than the first half with Louisville pushing their lead out to a game-high 17 points with 11:42 remaining. The Cardinals looked to be in control leading 52 – 45, but the Seahawks would not go down easily.
The Seahawks fought back, eventually getting to within two points with just under seven minutes remaining. They outscored Louisville 15 – 0 over a five plus minute stretch.
Terry Rozier then scored six of the next eight points to push Louisville’s lead to 60 – 52. Rozier finished with 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, but Pitino was not happy with his performance saying, “he turned the ball over too much and he didn’t have an assist in the game. He didn’t play well at all.”
Montrezl Harrell finished with his fifth consecutive double-double. He tied Rozier with a game-high 19 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.
Louisville’s poor performance came just five days after one of their more impressive offensive performances against the Indiana Hoosiers. They put up a season-high 94 points and 15 assists. Against the Seahawks they finished with only seven assists. The assist total is what Pitino has said is keeping this season’s Cardinals from becoming a great team saying, “We didn’t pass the ball like we did against Indiana. We hunted points and we paid the consequences of hunting points rather than hitting the open man.”
UNCW was led in scoring by senior guard Freddie Jackson who finished with 16 points.
Louisville’s next game will be their first true road game as they travel to Bowling Green to face Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
*Freshman Shaqquan Aaron will be eligible to play against Western Kentucky after being suspended for the first nine games of the season.
*Montrezl Harrell’s 17 rebounds against UNCW is a career-high.