Harrell dunks on Owls; working on free throws

University of Louisville sophomore Montrezl Harrell scored 21 points for the Cardinals in an 88-66 win over Temple on Thursday night. Harrell said he's working hard on his free throws and was just 3 of 7 from the line.

There hasn't been much to complain about when it comes to the way University of Louisville power forward Montrezl Harrell has been playing lately.

But that's not to say that there's nothing fans will gripe about when it comes to the sophomore's performance as of late.

Midway through the second half of the No. 7-ranked Cardinals victory over Temple on Thursday night, with his team comfortably ahead, Harrell toed the free-throw line for one of four trips he would make to the charity stripe. As he swished the front-end of the two-shot trip the home crowd erupted in relief and (perhaps surprised) excitement.

Anyone who follows this season's Cardinals knows the stripe has been anything but charitable to Harrell in 2014.

"I shot free throws for an hour and 45 minutes the other day," Harrell said with a laugh after the game. "(I shot) during practice and then 30 minutes after practice, so I'm working on them a lot."

Coming into the game against Temple, which Louisville dominated by a score of 88-66, Harrell was shooting 39 percent from the line since the beginning of American Athletic Conference play. The 6-foot-8, 240-pounder was 3-for-7 on Thursday night, but said the extra practice is slowly making him more comfortable.

"(The free throws) are coming along. Coach has changed my routine so many times, so I just have to find one and stick with it. I felt like my free throws looked pretty good tonight, some of them just rimmed out. That's just the way the ball bounces."

Some of the misses could be his own fault, though. On his way to 21 points, Harrell threw down a handful of his signature dunks, including a thunderous follow off a missed Chris Jones three-pointer in the first half, that left the rims shaking for more than a few seconds. Harrell's 21 points and six rebounds marks nine of ten games in which he's scored at least 14 points and grabbed at least four boards.

"As far as playing my best, I feel like I'm playing pretty well," Harrell said.

"But I feel like I can take it to another level. It's just about (continuing) to get reps up and keep your body in good shape, because we're in the crunch part of our season."

Harrell shrugs off the notion that he's the sole reason for the Cardinals' recent success, instead shifting focus to the team's readiness for the tough two-game stretch they have ahead of them. The Cardinals will travel to No. 24 Memphis on Saturday, and Southern Methodist on Wednesday.

"We've been playing great defense on the road, and I feel like we're going down to (Memphis) prepared. We know we've only got one day (to prepare) and we're going to take our scouting reports very seriously." "I know they got us at home," Harrell admits of the 73-67 loss to the Tigers on Jan. 9. "But it's not a revenge game, we've just got to go down there and do our jobs."


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