No. 8 Louisville’s stars look the part as Papa Pitino defeats son
In the Battle of the Pitinos, Rick showed the world that Richard is not quite ready to take the title of best coach in the family.
Montrezl Harrell finished with 30 points and seven boards while showing off his brand new shooting stroke while Terry Rozier chipped in with 18 points, six boards, four assists, four steals and not a single turnover as No. 8 Louisville knocked of Minnesota 81-68.
The Gophers hung around early, but midway through the first half, Louisville’s defensive pressure started to wear on them. The Cardinals used a 19-2 run over an eight minute stretch in to turn a 14-10 deficit into a 29-16 lead, smothering any chance that Minnesota had of feeling comfortable offensively. They trailed by as much as 20 and didn’t get closer than seven the rest of the way.
Rozier looked as good as we all predicted that he would be, slicing his way through traffic and making Louisville fans quickly forget that they would be without all-american guard Russ Smith this season. But the real star of the night was Harrell, who played his usual brand of physical, high-energy basketball while showcasing just how much work he put in this offseason. The 6-foot-8 all-american buried a three on his first touch of the game and proceeded to go 3-for-4 from beyond the arc while knocking down 9-of-10 free throws.
That new shooting touch will make Harrell that much more of a nightmare to guard this season, and while that was a great sign for Louisville, their biggest concern heading into the season was legitimized.
Does Louisville have a supporting cast to help out their two stars? Chris Jones finished with 13 points, but he was 4-for-13 from the floor and had as many turnovers (three) as he did assists. No one else scored more than seven points. Chinanu Onuaku looked like he would be a nice piece to slide in alongside Harrell, grabbing offensive rebounds and playing like the physical menace he is in the paint, but he picked up three first half fouls and was a non-factor in the second half before fouling out. Anton Gill had five turnovers and was 0-for-5 from the floor.
It wasn’t all bad for Minnesota. Andre Hollins played very well while Nate Mason and Mo Walker both had flashes of looking like impact Big Ten players. Their biggest issue was that Dre Mathieu was rendered largely ineffective, finishing with just six points and four turnovers.