Blackshear makes big impact for Cardinals

Rick Pitino breaks down No. 23 Louisville's 77-74 comeback victory over West Virginia in Morgantown, including Wayne Blackshear's impact in his debut for the Cards.

Rick Pitino had a big surprise for West Virginia: Wayne Blackshear.

Pitino told the media Friday that his talented freshman forward, who was medically cleared to play this week, probably wouldn't be ready to play until Feb. 18 against DePaul. Not only did the 6'5 Blackshear play against the Mountaineers, he made a major impact for the Cardinals, who overcame an 11-point second half deficit for a, 77-74, win over Bob Huggins team.

"We got a big lift out of playing Wayne," Pitino said. "I was real impressed with the way Wayne shot the ball….he has very good touch."

"I told the media I wasn't going to play him for two weeks primarily because I didn't want Huggins to prepare for him. We knew we were going to play him but we didn't want any preparation on him going into the game."

Blackshear, making his first appearance for UofL this season after having surgery on his right shoulder Nov. 1, scored 13 points in 20 minutes off the Louisville bench. Blackshear made 5 of 9 shots from the floor, including 3-5 three-pointers. He also grabbed four boards, one steal and a block.

Blackshear saw minutes at both the two and three spots, playing out top on Louisville's zone, as well as on the back wing.

Afterward, Pitino also made these comments about Louisville's road win on his 84 WHAS post-game radio show:

On keys to Louisville's win
"We hung in there and went with our press at the right time. We didn't want to give them a steady diet of it, but it allowed us to protect Gorgui [Dieng], keeping them from driving and getting the ball inside and it gave us a big lift. I think the ultimate key besides our great offensive execution down the stretch was the fact that we didn't turn the ball over. That was a big factor in the game with only eight turnovers."

On Kuric's key steal
"That was a big time play because we had to have it. We knew they were going to go inside and we knew what play they were going to run. Richard did a tremendous job scouting these guys. Our guys in the second half held them to 36 percent shooting after shooting 50 percent in the first half. Excellent and excellent offensive execution down the stretch."

On the rebounding differential
"We battled. When you play Russ and Peyton together they're not going to give you a lot of help on the board. I was upset at Kyle because he wasn't rebounding the basketball and he's got to get in there and get us some rebounds. But I'm not going to hold it against him with the ending [laughing]…."

On importance of the game
"We had to have this game, but they had to have it more because now they're 6-7 and the headlines in the newspaper today was that this is what they need…We had to have it for a number of reasons…we are playing well, we want to keep it going and we have been the best road team in the Big East since we joined and we take great pride in our toughness. This was another terrific road win when the other really needed it. That's exciting for the team."

On Russ Smith's play
"I tried to tell him, 'You just made three spectacular plays and it's time to get an assist.' Then he came down and just took a quick shot. He's got to learn those things."

On preparing for the Orange
"We'll watch a lot of film, we'll practice [Sunday] afternoon and we'll do individual instruction with the guys that didn't play. Make no mistake about it, we're going to have to shoot the ball well in this game."

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