Padgett dominates in first outing as Cardinal

Sophomore records a double-double to lead No.7 Louisville over Prairie View A&M

It's been a long time coming and if his performance from his initial regular season game as a Louisville Cardinal, sophomore David Padgett appears to be ready to help Rick Pitino's squad develop into a much more dominant force in all phases of the game.

The Reno, Nevada native made his first career start on Saturday in the opening game of the Colonial Classic and responded with his first career double-double. In 27 minutes of action the 6-foot-11 Padgett poured in 17 points on 7 of 8 shooting from the field, while also grabbing 10 rebounds. The sophomore also recorded five blocks and handed out four assists in the win.

"I think David's out of shape, but for the shape he is in, I thought he played great," said U of L head coach Rick Pitino following the win. "He hasn't played basketball for three and half weeks, so under the circumstances I thought he was awesome."

Padgett, who was making his return from a knee injury suffered during an intra-squad scrimmage in mid-November, said that despite being nervous, his first experience in the Cardinals lineup was one to remember.

"After over a year now to be able to put on a uniform and play in a game was awesome." said Padgett following the seventh-ranked Cardinals 90-65 win over Prairie View A&M on Saturday afternoon. "I was extremely nervous, but I get nervous before every game so it wasn't anything out of the ordinary."

Padgett, who admitted to not being in game shape, felt no lingering effects of the injury during or immediately following the school's second win of the young season.

"I think that was what the last few days of practice were for," he explained. "I was able to get out there and have physical contact [in practice]. My knee felt good and I didn't notice it the whole game."

Fellow sophomore Juan Palacios, who scored a game-high 19 points in the win, said that having Padgett on the floor helped the Cardinals improve on both ends of the floor.

"On defense there is a great difference because he is going to block some shots, so he's going to help out everybody on defense," said Palacios, who added that Padgett's presence is equally felt on the offensive end. "He's a real smart guy and knows all the plays and looks for all the options out there, so he really helps the offense a lot."

Out of game shape or not, Padgett proved to be worthy of the preseason hype that surrounded him and with two games remaining in the Colonial Classic, he believes that his best could still be just a week or two away.

"These three games will definitely help me get back in shape and just a few weeks of practice and I'll be right back where I was."

The Cardinals return to action on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. when they face Arkansas State in Freedom Hall. The game will be televised live locally on WHAS 11.


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