University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has now won 11 consecutive openers for the Cardinals, but Friday night's 81-68 score over Minnesota was a tough one.
Pitino and the Cardinals won the game over Minnesota and his son Richard Pitino, with the father now owning a 2-0 record against the son.
The win came in the Armed Forces Classic on the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in front of 1,400 people. Many of those in attendance were military and many members of the Pitino family, including Richard's young son - Jack - who was baptized earlier in the day.
"It was a nice event, but I really didn't want to play this game," Rick Pitino said after his team went 1-0. "We don't want to open up 0-1, but I didn't want my son to open up 0-1.
"So for all the exposure, it was great until the end of the game. I would rather have not played it, because my son lost the game."
Louisville led by as much as 20 in the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
No question on this one - Montrezl Harrell.
The junior first-team All-American came back for another season and opted not to turn pro last spring but against the Gophers he looked like a pro.
Harrell hit seven of his first eight shots and finished 9 of 12 in the game, scoring 30 points in 38 minutes. He also had seven rebounds and two steals.
While be aggressive on the offensive end, Harrell hit 3 of 4 from three-point range and had a jumper from near the top of the key in the first half.
If Harrell plays like that the Cardinals are going to be hard to beat. Plus, he's going to be in the running for National Player of the Year.
Harrell did have two dunks but one of the most impressive things is the amount of fouls he drew. I can't wait to find out because it had to be pushing a dozen.
BIG SHOT OF THE GAME
Freshman Quentin Snider only took two shots but one - a three-pointer with 7:04 left - was one of the biggest baskets of the game.
The Gophers had cut the lead to nine - 62-53 - and had some momentum. But Chris Jones drove the lane and dished to Snider in the left corner.
Shooting right in front of the U of L bench, Snider drained his first career three-point attempt. He was 2-for-2 on the night with seven points and four rebounds in 14 minutes.
KEY RUN OF THE GAME
The Cardinals had several key runs and actually had some inconsistent play during the game. But the key run came in the first half after Minnesota led 14-10.
The Cardinals went on a 19-2 run to take advantage of the game. The Cardinals only let the lead slip to below double digits twice the rest of the game.
Five guys scored during the run for U of L, including Harrell who had nine. He hit one of this three-pointers in the run, to make it 29-16.
It was the first time in the game that Rick Pitino was able to see the Gophers weren't going to be able to handle the pressure. So, the Cardinals turned up the heat.
THEY SAID IT
Montrezl Harrell, Louisville forward: "I feel like we can be another Final Four team," he said. "Minnesota has a very good team. They came at us very hard and threw a couple punches, but we weathered the storm."
A FEW TIP INS
***Wayne Blackshear was back to his fouling ways, getting three in the second half and playing just 20 minutes because of four fouls. He struggled because he never really got into the floor, but had seven points and three rebounds.
***Sophomore guard Anton Gill really struggled. He was 0-for-5 with five turnovers and four fouls in 19 minutes. He scored one point and had four rebounds.
***The Cardinals offensive input was a bit out of balance. Harrell, Chris Jones (13 points) Terry Rozier (18) hit 11 of the Cardinals' 12 baskets in the first half.
***Besides the four fouls, Rozier was sensational. He was 7 of 11 from the field an finished with 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals with no turnovers in 31 minutes of play for the Cardinals.
***Jaylen Johnson did play one minute for the Cardinals with Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman neither seeing any playing time for U of L.
***The two teams combined for 60 fouls with the Cardinals committing 28. U of L was 29 of 42 from the free-throw line and 23 of 50 from the field.
Louisville (1-0) will play the home opener at 7 o'clock on Monday when the Cardinals face Jacksonville State in the KFC Yum! Center.
Jacksonville state lost 74-55 to Marshall on Friday night.
The game is part of the Global Sports Showcase, a five-team tournament that is just a round-robin event.