University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said his team's focus heading into Monday's game against William & Mary was "amazing," noting the Tribe were one of the toughest teams to prepare for because of their style.
But the Cardinals prepared well and then executed.
Louisville used a 20-2 run that started late in the first half and ended nearly five minutes into the second half to run past the Tribe 91-58 before 19,314 fans at the KFC Yum Center.
"I know because it is a lopsided victory, you may not understand this, but I bet you that team is the toughest team that we will have to prepare for all season because of the way they play," Pitino said. ". . . They backdoor you to death, they are like Notre Dame shooting the ball and like the old Georgetown teams with the backdoor and they are very difficult to guard.
"Today, we had the best walk through that we have had in two years here. The focus was amazing because of the amount of respect that our guys had for William and Mary. They watched the entire NC State game last year and they are a year older and a year better, only we played terrific defense tonight. We did a really good job of putting the pressure on and not fouling. You will find out when teams play against us, even though they aren't very good free throw shooting teams, they will wear out from the foul line as well as the field. That is a stat that I have never kept over the years but it's a remarkable stat. So I am really proud of our guys, our walk through today was tremendous. It sent the coaches into the pregame really excited about that."
The Cardinals had five players hit double figures, hit 33 of 72 from the field, including 10 of 28 three-pointers, and had 21 assists on 33 made baskets in the win over the Tribe.
Louisville is now 2-0 on the season.
MVP of the game
One might think it was V.J. King because he had 17 points in 17 minutes, but we'll go with Deng Adel.
After no baskets in the opener, Adel rebounded with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in 27 minutes. He was only 4 0f 9 from the field but was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Adel only hit 1 of 5 from three-point range but the outside shooting will come around. He took the ball to the basket, passed well in the offense and was an all-around standout for the Cardinals.
He'll continue to get better and better.
Three key takeaways
1. King not an ordinary freshman: Pitino has said V.J. King is advanced well beyond a true freshman and he showed it on this night.
The 6-foot-7 wing is a big-time scorer and is so confident for a young player. He was 3-for-3 from three-point range and 7 of 11 overall for 17 points to go along with five rebounds in the win.
King has a great first step and showed he's not shy going to the basket.
2. King and Adel can play together: Even Adel said he wondered what it would be like to play at the same time as King and he found out - it was very successful for the Cardinals.
Both are a lot a like but will create major troubles for opposing teams with their length on the floor at the same time.
"That's trouble for other teams," Jaylen Johnson said.
3. Swat that shot away: Louisville is going to be a really good shot-blocking team this season just like Pitino projected.
The Cardinals have 21 blocked shots in the first two games with 11 coming against the Tribe. Mangok Mathiang had five and Donovan Mitchell had four - which was one more than he had all of last season.
Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud added one block apiece.
*****Louisville finished with 20 or more assists (21) and 10 or fewer turnovers (9) for the first time since March 14 of 2014 when it had 22 assists and just six turnovers in a win over Houston.
*****Pitino said Mathiang is still not where he needs to be conditioning-wise but said he's 100 percent healthy. Mathiang played 23 minutes with three points, 10 rebounds, five blocked shots and two assists.
*****Louisville has now won 40 straight games at home in November, spanning 25 seasons. The Cardinals are 27-0 during that time at the KFC Yum Center.
Quote of the night
U of L coach Rick Pitino when asked what V.J. King needs to do to get 20 minutes of playing time:
"I'll play him three more minutes for you, next time. He played 17. I don't know. That's a great suggestion. I'm going to play him 20 next game. I really, to tell you the truth, I don't know how many minutes he's playing. I'm just trying to get his feet wet. This is a very difficult game for him to guard. He gets a little tired out there and I can play him 30 minutes and be very happy. The thing I found out tonight is that Deng and V.J. can play together. That's the most important thing and it gives you great length."
Next up . . .
The Cardinals will play a Long Beach State (1-1) team that lost on Sunday at Wichita State. The 49ers will play at North Carolina on Tuesday night before visiting the Yum Center.
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