Louisville (5-0) received a game-high 22 points from senior guard Taquan Dean and shot a season-best 60% from the field in their 111-85 win over the visiting Akron Zips
After building a 46-37 lead at the break, Louisville
turned to guard Taquan Dean
during the opening minutes of the second frame to build a sizeable lead. The senior poured in 17 of his game-high 22 points during the first ten minutes of the second half and gave the fifth-ranked Cardinals a 23-point lead when he connected on a three-pointer with 9:35 remaining in the game.
"I wanted to sit back and let the young guys do their thing," said Dean, who also recorded 8 assists and 7 rebounds in the 111-85 win over Akron. "Once they got their confidence going I was able to score freely."
For the first time this season, all five of the Cardinal starters scored in double figures. Following a lengthy rehab, sophomore forward Juan Palacios played his best game of the young season, scoring 17, while also grabbing 8 rebounds and set a new career-high by handing out 6 assists.
Palacios handed out a career-high
six assists in the win
"That was a lot of fun from coaching standpoint," said U of L head coach Rick Pitino. "Often coaches don't have fun during the course of the game, but it was a lot of fun to watch passing and unselfish play, getting other people shots and cuts. That was really exciting. We rebounded the ball well. Anytime you play that style of offense, you're going to look good. I thought this was [Juan Palacios'] finest game he's played since he came back this year."
Louisville dominated visiting Akron on the glass, outrebounding their opponent by 15. The Cardinals grabbed 17 of the game's first 19 caroms, which helped the team to a 20-9 advantage on second chance points and an 18-4 advantage in transition play.
Freshman Terrence Williams also turned in his strongest outing as a Cardinal, scoring a career-high 13 points, while fellow freshman Andre McGee added 8 points and 7 rebounds.
"I'm getting more comfortable playing college basketball and getting better acclimated with everything that comes with it," said McGee. "Coach expects me to come of the bench and be a spark for the team and that's something that I try to focus on."
Louisville, which improved to 5-0 on the young season, will next face Chicago State at Freedom Hall on Tuesday and then will begin preparing for the annual rivalry game against Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
"One game at a time," Dean said about the upcoming game at Rupp Arena. "One thing that I have learned after being here for four years is that you can't overlook anybody. We will be ready for that game when it comes, but we have to focus on our next opponent first."
U of L opened the season at 5-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season when the Cardinals finished the year at 26-9.
U of L is 97-0 all-time when scoring 100 or more points in a game.
Leading by nine points at the half at 47-36, Louisville opened the second half by hitting its first nine shots, including four three-pointers.
Freshman Bryan Harvey made his collegiate debut in the first half. He scored six points, including his first career three-point field goal. He had played in the team's two exhibition games.
U of L improved to 33-2 during the month of December under head coach Rick Pitino.
The Cardinals hit a season-high 11 three-pointers, besting the previous mark of of 10 versus Arkansas State and Tennessee-Martin.
U of L shot a season-best 60.6 percent from the floor in the win, marking the second time this seasont he Cardinals shot better than 50.0 percent in a game. Louisville shot a higher field goal percentage in the second half of all five games this season.
The Cardinals had a season-high 31 assists, which is three shy of tying the school mark of 34.
Bryan Harvey recorded 6 points
2 rebounds & 2 assists against Akron