Louisville stays perfect in three games with an 89-61 win over North Florida

The University of Louisville basketball team stayed perfect on the season with an 89-61 victory over North Florida - an NCAA Tournament team last season - on Saturday at the KFC Yum Center. The Cardinals play St. Francis Brooklyn next up on Tuesday.

It was a game that had Rick Pitino worried.

Even back in July when talking about the schedule, Pitino noted North Florida was an NCAA Tournament team last season with a lot of talent back in the fold. And then the Ospreys started the season 3-0, averaging 99 points a game and making 48 three-pointers.

"That's a really good team," Pitino would say.

But the Ospreys were no match for Louisville as the Cardinals used a 31-5 run in the second half to blow open the game on Saturday, winning 89-61 before 20,413 at the KFC Yum Center.

MVP - Damion Lee

You might think it was Ray Spalding - and he was sensational - but senior Damion Lee had his best outing for the Cardinals and was such a difference-maker for the Cardinals.

Lee had a career-best 24 points in a Louisville uniform and was 10 of 16 from the field. Lee hit 2 of 4 three-pointers and was 2 of 2 from the line, along with seven rebounds and three assists in 38 miniutes.

With Lee, the difference in this game was his stroke. He wasn't taking any challenged shots, instead getting into the clear or taking a closer step to the basket. It made it easier for him to do his work.

"It felt good," Lee said. "I'm getting more comfortable."

Breakout - Ray Spalding

The 6-foot-9 freshman from Trinity High School had only logged 16 minutes in the first two games. But he practiced well this week and Pitino gave him a chance - and Spalding responded.

Spalding played 31 consecutive minutes after coming into the game and had his first career double-double.

With an 8-for-10 showing from the field, Spalding finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.

Spalding led the Cardinals with 12 of the team's 37 deflections.

"It doesn't surprise me," Mangok Mathiang said. "He does it all the time in practice."

Stat of the night

The Cardinals have now won their first three games by 28 or more points for the first time in school history.

Louisville beat Samford by 41 points, tagged Hartford by 35 and then had the 28-point win over North Florida.

The Cardinals are averaging 87.3 points a game and have held opponents to 52.7. U of L's average margin of victory in the three victories is 34.9 points.

He said it . . . 

North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll on Louisville:

"These jokers are back to the Louisville teams that you guys always remembered. They might've been more skilled last year with Rozier, Blackshear and Harrell, but this team has got no identity with names and every identity with Rick. And what I mean by that is they're just pressing, turning you over, trying to get easy put-backs, trying to get easy layups. The two fifth-year seniors they brought in are exceptionally skilled. Obviously, they played big minutes tonight against us and they did a great job understanding what coach wants and playing at the pace. To their credit, this is a team that I think Rick is going to enjoy coaching because it seems like it fits more who he is and what he's about as opposed to maybe what was here last year."

Up next

Louisville will play host to St. Francis Brooklyn on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

The Cardinals will then travel to New York for the Saint Louis matchup next Saturday night.

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