It was expected to a rowdy environment when No.4 Louisville visited in-state Western Kentucky at E.A. Diddle Arena on Bowling Green, but the raucous activities were expected to only come from the 7,598 sold out crowd.
After a strong first half performance that saw him lead the team with 14 points and 6 rebounds, U of L forward Montrezl Harrell was called for a flagrant two foul with 38 seconds left in the opening frame. The junior was ejected following a brief scuffle on the floor that also led to a pair of technicals on each head coach.
Player of the Game
Terry Rozier. The sophomore guard came up big in the second half, scoring 26 of his 32 points during the final 20 minutes of play.
The Wooden Award candidate shot 9 of 16 from the floor and connected on 11 of 13 free throw attempts to record a new career-high. He hit 3 of 6 beyond the arc and also finished with 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Following a dunk by WKU's Justin Johnson that pulled the Hilltoppers within four, Rozier scored the next 10 points for the Cardinals during a 1:30 stretch that created a 54-47 lead for U of L.
Big Shot of the Game
There are certainly a number of candidates. A pair of Rozier three-pointers, or his layup following a steal was considered, as was the three-pointer from Anton Gill to give the Cardinals a 10-point advantage with 6:44 to play, but the nod goes to the three-pointer from the hands of Chris Jones with 4:10 to play.
His three-pointer, which came off an assist from Gill, near the corner and in front of the Louisville bench ended a potential run by the host Hilltoppers and instead lifted the visitors to a 8 point lead.
They Said It...
U of L assistant Kenny Johnson:
“It was a heated basketball game. A lot of chippy things early. I saw Montrezl get tripped and fall to the ground. I think he was trying to get up. He felt kind of trapped, he was trying to stand up. As he extended his arms to get his balance, I guess whatever happened. He caught a flagrant two foul and he had to sit out the rest.”
“We talked about dealing with adversity. This was an adversity not having Montrezl Harrell, who we believe is the best player in college basketball, on the court for an extended period of time. Having to deal with that and getting guys in position for extended minutes who hadn't played with the team.”
A Few Tip Ins
***The win by Louisville evens the all-time series between the two programs at 39 each.
***Freshman Anas Mahmoud was impressive in a reserve role. In 23 minutes of play, he totaled 6 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. He also had his first two dunks of his U of L career.
***The Cardinals connected on 26 of 30 free throws, while WKU hit just 15 of 25.
***Louisville outscored the Hilltoppers 26-16 in the paint and 15-5 on second chance points. U of L was outscored 16-13 from points off turnovers and 8-4 in fast break points.
***U of L narrowly won the battle on the boards 37-35.
***The 7,598 was the third largest crowd in Diddle Arena since the 2002-03 renovations.