Cards shake off rust in romp over Morehead

The University of Louisville men's basketball team just had to shake off some dust. And some rust.

But once the Cardinals did it was no more for Morehead State.

UofL shook off an icy shooting start, then sizzled in the second half on its way to a 79-41 win over the Eagles in their season-opener in the Billy Minardi Classic in front of 19,493 fans at Freedom Hall.

The No. 3 Cards (1-0) will play the winner of Saturday night's second game, between South Alabama and Florida A&M, at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Minardi Classic championship game.

"We had some opening jitters, then we just relaxed," said UofL coach Rick Pitino, whose team shot 68 percent in the second half and outscored Morehead State 50-21.

Freshman center Samardo Samuels led four in double figures with 18 points, while junior forward Earl Clark added 13 points. Jerry Smith and Preston Knowles added 10 points apiece, while Terrence Williams showed no ill effects from his recent knee surgery and grabbed 11 rebounds. Junior guard Edgar Sosa added 10 assists, many inside to Samuels.

"He's an automatic two when you get it to him in the paint, no one can stop him," Sosa said.

UofL recorded 21 assists on its 29 field goals, including 16 on its 19 second-half baskets.

"When we pass the basketball we look good, when we stand around we don't," Pitino said.

The Cards got off to a slow start, though, as their first-half shooting equaled the outside temperatures. UofL missed 13 of its first 14 shots and finished the first half shooting only 29 percent (10 of 34), but managed to lead 29-20 thanks to nine points from Smith and eight from Samuels.

"I played alright for my first game, there are a lot of things I need to work on and improve on," said Samuels, who was 8 for 12 from the field and 2 for 2 from the free throw line to go along with five rebounds.

"We've got to get Earl and Samardo rebounding like T- Will," Pitino said.

UofL rebounded from its slow shooting start in the second half. It seemed as hard as baskets were to come by in the first half they were easy to come by after intermission.

UofL hit 15 of its first 18 second-half shots and quickly opened up a double-digit leads on the Eagles (0-4), who lost their first three games by an average of 11.3 points and were playing their fourth game in nine days.

"They've had a tough journey, they're the richest team in the country," Pitino joked of Morehead State's early road schedule. "But pressure always takes its toll in the second half, like a fighter who takes it to the body, eventually he wears the other guy out."

And that's what the Cards did. They outscored the Eagles 19-2 in points off turnovers.

How good were things going for the Cards? T-Will didn't score his first points until a dunk with less than four minutes remained in the game.

Leon Buchanan was the only Eagle in double figures with 10 points.

"We still have a long ways to go, but still it was a good opening game," Pitino said.

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