Shots were not falling for the No. 7 ranked Louisville Cardinals against the Thundering Herd of Marshall. Louisville shot 39.5 percent from the field including an abysmal 3 of 22 from three point range. They struggled at the line as well finishing at 63 percent for the evening. When shots aren’t falling the defense better step up. Tonight the game was one at the defensive end.
Led by all-over-the-court pressure defense by starting guards Chris Jones and Terry Rozier and the solid interior defense by Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang, the Cardinals were able to dismantle Marshall 85 – 67.
Jones and Rozier struggled from the field shooting a combined 10 for 34. Rick Pitino was not happy with his guards saying, “Our guards tonight didn’t play like veterans because they were affected too much by their missed shots and they lost focus of what’s most important – and that’s winning the game.”
Pitino was extremely pleased with the interior play of both Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang. Onuaku finished with his second consecutive double-double. He scored 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Mathiang was certain to be a starter at the beginning of the year. However, he has embraced the role of being an energy guy coming off of the bench. He played his best game of the early season corralling 11 rebounds and blocking a season-high 3 shots. Mathiang provided the interior defense the Cardinals will need as the season progresses.
Pitino offered his praise of both big men, “I thought Mangok and Nanu were both terrific. They understood the game plan very well and that’s why we didn’t lose the lead. That’s why we enhanced the lead. They understood it. They weren’t interested in shooting jump shots. They knew who they were. They knew that rebounding was crucial and they did their job.”
Junior forward, Montrezl Harrell, played only 24 minutes due to foul trouble. Harrell was sent to the bench after picking up his fourth foul early in the second half. He did finish with a respectable 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Pitino was not as concerned as most coaches would be with Harrell’s foul trouble saying, “It was good to play without Montrezl [Harrell] to see if we could be in a situation where we didn’t lose the lead. That was good.”
For the second straight game Senior Wayne Blackshear played with an incredible amount of energy. He was all over the floor in the first half. Just like Rozier and Jones his shot was not falling, but he stuffed the box score in other areas. Blackshear finished with 16 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and had 4 steals.
Ryan Taylor had a near triple-double for Marshall finishing with 15 points, 18 rebounds, and 8 assists. However, he made only 2 of his 14 shot attempts.
Louisville is now 3 – 0 on the regular season. Marshall lost for the first time this season.
Louisville continues it 6 game home stand Monday night against Savannah State.