Cards handle Morgan St.; UK next

Preston Knowles and Kyle Kuric were a two-man wrecking crew Monday night against Morgan State. Knowles and Kuric combined for 56 points to lead Louisville to a 104-74 victory over the Bears at the KFC Yum! Center in the Cardinals' final tune-up before Friday's showdown against archrival Kentucky.

Preston Knowles and Kyle Kuric were a two-man wrecking crew Monday night against Morgan State.

The 6-foot-1 senior guard and the 6-4 junior guard combined for 56 points - both setting new career-highs - to lead the University of Louisville to a 104-74 victory over the Bears in front of 21,688 at the KFC Yum! Center in the Cardinals' final tune-up before Friday's showdown against archrival Kentucky.

Knowles scored 31 points, while Kuric tallied 25 points for No. 22 Louisville (11-1), which topped the century mark for the second straight game. Kuric hit seven three-pointers and Knowles six to lead the Cards' unconscious effort from three-point range. They shot 73.9 percent from long range, connecting on 17 of 23, and hit seven of their first eight to quickly dispatch the Bears (4-6), the preseason pick to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

"The old basketball cliche says that shooting cures a multitude of sins, and it did tonight," UofL coach Rick Pitino said. "I haven't seen shooting like the last two games in a while...We didn't play really good defense, but the shooting in the last two games was spectacular because the passing and the unselfishness was very good. We are not going to get the looks that we have been getting the next game, obviously."

Kuric hit his first five three-point tries on his way to 17 first-half points.

"It's a great feeling to go out there and hit five shots, I can't explain it," said Kuric, who eclipsed his previous career-high of 22 points set vs. Syracuse in the final game in Freedom Hall.

Kuric scored 12 of UofL's first 15 points against Morgan State, which was coming off a 97-55 loss at Syracuse. The exclamation point of his first-half performance came with his one-handed follow dunk of a miss by Terrence Jennings with 8 minutes, 8 seconds left in the first half. That gave UofL a 39-16 advantage and its lead only grew from there.

"I thought he was very active stealing the basketball and very active in the press," Pitino said. "He did a great job in the press. I thought he did a great job in all areas. He went to the offensive glass and moving him to the four-spot he has done very well in that too."

Knowles, meanwhile, scored eight of the Cards' final 12 points of the first half.

"I didn't feel good before the game," Knowles said. "I had to stretch for an's a miracle I did what I did."

His pull-up three-pointer that just beat the halftime buzzer, giving Louisville a 58-28 lead, and ended a miraculous 20 minutes of shooting.

"They shot the lights out," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said.

The Cards shot 58.3 percent (21 for 36) in the first half, including 9 of 12 (75 percent) from three-point range. They also out-rebounded the Bears 20-10 and turned 20 Morgan State turnovers into 20 points.

The Bears came out with some more energy, and some better ball-handling (only six turnovers), in the second half.

"He pulled the press off and we still had 20 turnovers," Bozeman said. "Not saying that if they would have pressed us we would still have 20, but that did contribute to it because the pace of the game changed. It was more of a pace that was conducive to us."

But it wasn't enough to overcome UofL's torrid shooting. The Cards shot 59.3 percent (16 of 27) in the second half, including 72.7 percent (8 of 11) from three-point range. Even reserve Tim Henderson got into the act, making his lone long range attempt.

Peyton Siva led Louisville with seven assists and five steals, while Chris Smith contributed 10 points and six assists - including an alley oop to Kuric with 1:20 to play.

Terrence Jennings added 15 points in 17 minutes off the bench, while Rakeem Buckles added six points, six rebounds and five turnovers in 12 minutes.

Louisville hosts the 11th-ranked Wildcats at noon Friday.

"I have seen a little of them, a little of the UConn game and really that is all I have seen," Pitino said. "I will start looking at it tonight, but haven't seen a whole lot. I know they are a much different team than last year. They are just as fast as they were last year in terms of pushing the pace. They shoot it great, which they didn't last year. They take you off the bounce very well and are a very good defensive team, but I will start studying a little more tonight."

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