Cards use second half blitz for 100-87 win

Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals showed some explosiveness during the second half of Saturday's season-opening 100-87 win over Northwestern State.

Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals showed some explosiveness during the second half of Saturday's season-opening 100-87 win over Northwestern State.

Down 11 at halftime, the Cardinals (1-0) blitzed the Demons for 61 points after the break for their first win of the 2006-07 season. Freshman Jerry Smith led the way with 24 points.

"Obviously Jerry Smith, for a freshman, was spectacular," Pitino said. "It was a very good team victory."

Smith, a 6'2 guard from Wisconsin, hit 3-5 three's, grabbed three rebounds and also handed out four assists in just 20 minutes of action.

"I didn't think a freshman would get 24 points, rebound in traffic and do the things he was doing - not in our first game. But I know he's got a lot of talent," added Pitino.

Louisville shot 66 percent from the floor in the second half – 53 percent for the game. And while the Cardinals had no problem putting the ball in the basket – particularly in the after halftime, they had a problem stopping a quick and athletic Northwestern State squad.

"What I liked about our team today was the way we played in the second half with the full court pressure," Pitino said. "The way they pressed the ball, we shot 65 per cent in the second half. Oklahoma State had 23 turnovers and we only 12 turnovers. We have to get better at rebounding the ball. It's really due to keeping them out of the lane and moving your feet. Palacios got constantly beat, Sosa got constantly beat. Everybody was constantly beat off the dribble. They're very difficult to play against and they have a very good offensive scheme."

Colby Bargeman led NSU with 24 points, but scored only five points after the break. Louisville had five players score in double figures. Sophomore's Andre McGee and Terrence Williams both scored 16.

The Cardinals will return to action Sunday evening in an exhibition contest against Kentucky Wesleyan. Freshmen forwards Derrick Caracter and Earl Clark are both expected to play in the game. Caracter sat out Louisville's season-opener as part of his three-game NCAA suspension for receiving extra benefits, while Clark dressed but didn't play against the Demons.

I've said all along Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter are way behind the other freshmen in terms of knowing the game," Pitino said. "Big guys take a lot longer to adjust than guards."


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