FIU no contest for Louisville

Louisville (5-0) dispatched FIU with little effort Wednesday night at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals ran out to a 19-2 lead, then eased to a 92-55 win.

Rick Pitino was at a loss for words.

Florida International just looked lost.

Thanks to a fast start the University of Louisville pounded the Panthers 92-55 Wednesday night in front of 20,866 at the KFC Yum! Center in the Cardinals' final game in the Global Sports Shootout.

"I'm really not too sure what to say," Pitino said. "It was a different game than we've seen in awhile."

The Cards (5-0) ran out to a 19-2 lead on FIU, which is coached by former NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas, and never looked back to stay perfect on the young season.

Five UofL players scored in double figures led by senior guard Preston Knowles, who nearly outscored the Panthers by himself in the first half - he had 13, FIU had 15.

"It wasn't their night at all and nothing was working for them the first half," Pitino said.

Freshman center Gorgui Dieng added 15 points and seven blocked shots off the bench, while fellow freshman Elisha Justice added 12 points and Mike Marra and reserve guard Chris Smith tallied 10 points apiece.

Gorgui Dieng played well in Louisville's win over FIU. (AP)
Louisville scored the first 13 points of the game on back-to-back threes by Knowles, a layup and a three by Mike Marra and a basket by Dieng Brandon Moore's two free throws at the 15:16 mark broke the Panthers' scoring drought. However it was 19-2 before FIU's first field goal, at the 13:04 mark.

At the 10-minute mark Louisville led 27-4 and already had freshman guard Russ Smith, who has been sidelined by a broken foot, and 14th man Tim Henderson on the floor.

"It was one of those games to build on and try and get better," said sophomore forward Stephan Van Treese, who got the start at power forward in place of Rakeem Buckles to help the Cards' rebounding according to Pitino.

The Cards cruised to a 48-15 halftime lead thanks to Knowles' buzzer-beating three-pointer. In addition to his baker's dozen worth of points, the senior guard also had six rebounds and two assists in the first 20 minutes. He finished 6 for 13 from the field, including 4 of 8 from three-point range, with the aforementioned six rebounds to go along with three assists and three steals.

"This was his most complete game, he looked to pass the basketball," Pitino said.

UofL outscored FIU 25-2 in points off turnovers in the first half as the Cards forced the Panthers into 16 miscues.

Louisville shot 48.5 percent (16-for-33) in the first 20 minutes, while holding FIU to 20.8 percent (5-for-24) shooting, including 1 of 8 (12.5 percent) from three-point range.

The only bad thing that happened to the Cards in the first half was that reserve forward Kyle Kuric suffered a mild concussion. Afterward Pitino said Kuric would likely be doubtful for Saturday's game against South Alabama.

About the only drama left in the game was if Thomas would actually get off the FIU bench.

"Clearly we were out-played tonight," he said. "I thought the first 10 minutes of the game our guys were a little shell-shocked. I definitely think it was the worst game we've played this year. I didn't recognize my team the first 10 minutes."

UofL shot 51.6 percent (16 for 31) in the second half on its way to 50 percent shooting (32 for 64) for the game. The Cards were 10-for-26 (38.5 percent) from three-point range, while the Panthers were a frigid 2-for-13 (15.4 percent).

"(I like) the way they shoot the ball, their three-point shooting," said Thomas, whose team was picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the Sun Belt Conference's East Division in the league‘s preseason poll. "They play with a collective will and they're playing with great confidence. They get in to their stuff pretty quickly, but they're playing with great confidence. I think playing at home has really helped them, and it's given them a great confidence and a great sense of awareness. I think that's what you see in them right now."

The Cards next host South Alabama, which was picked third in the Sun Belt East, at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"From this point it gets a lot tougher now because South Alabama plays a lot of different defenses, they press a great deal," Pitino said.

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