First half run propels UofL past ETSU

Louisville (2-0) didn't shoot well but eased past East Tennessee State 69-56 Saturday at Freedom Hall in the first of three straight Hall of Fame Showcase games this weekend.

University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said that this year's team could be capable of some big runs.

That was definitely the case Saturday as the Cardinals used a 18-0 first-half spurt to take control of their Hall of Fame Showcase game on their way to a 69-56 win over East Tennessee State in font of 19,179 fans at Freedom Hall.

"We were playing good defense and we were getting to the offensive glass," Pitino said about the keys to that spurt.

However that was about all of the positive things Pitino had to say during his brief post-game press conference.

"We're painfully young, we made a lot of young mistakes," said Pitino, whose displeasure was palpable.

That was apparent in the Cardinals' 6-for-30 three-point shooting (20 percent), as they settled for the outside shot instead of taking it to the basket, and in the fact that they were outrebounded 30-19 in the second half.

"We struggled a lot shooting the basketball tonight because we took challenged shots," said Pitino, whose team shot 36.4 percent (24 of 66) from the field. "That's something we've been trying to stay away from, and we were 1 of 10 on challenged shots. We didn't create good ball reversal and we didn't take them off the bounce and we paid for it by being sluggish. And we didn‘t get into our press because of shooting a low percentage.

"Your energy level is not as high on offense when you don't have success on offense. We were 1 for 10 from the three-point line and we kept taking challenged shots rather than driving the close out. Any time we throw a skip pass you want to drive or close out and take the guy on and create a better shot. We didn't do that tonight, which is disappointing."

"We just have to scratch this one off and go to the next one," senior guard Edgar Sosa said in the sullen UofL locker room afterward.

Sosa led Louisville (2-0) with 16 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including 4 of 8 from three-point range. Sophomore center Samardo Samuels added 14 points (on 5 of 6 shooting from the field and 4 of 6 from the foul line), 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

"Samuels was tough for us inside," ETSU coach Murry Bartow said.

Pitino, though, was less than impressed.

"He should've had 17, 18 rebounds tonight," the UofL coach said. "I'm not pleased with the way anybody rebounded the basketball."

The Cards had a 25-14 advantage on the backboards (including 10-3 on the offensive end) at halftime as they led 37-21.

Sosa's three-pointer 17 seconds into the game got UofL, which was coming off a 30-point season-opening win over Arkansas in which it hit 15 of 38 threes, off on the right foot.

But the Buccaneers (1-3) battled back, taking their first - and only - lead (at 10-7) on Micah Williams' three-pointer less than five minutes into the game.

That when the Cards responded with 18 unanswered points.

Jared Swopshire started things off with a pair of free throws. Moments later Samuels' dunk gave the Cards the lead of good, 11-10. Terrence Jennings, who came in after Samuels picked up his second foul, then made back-to-back baskets before Jerry Smith scored on a jumper. Sosa followed that with five straight points on a three-pointer and a dunk off a steal before Reginald Delk capped the run with another three.

The Cards stretched their lead to 21 (46-25) early in the second half before ETSU got hot from three-point range. The Bucs stayed close in the second half thanks to 6 of 13 (46.2 percent) shooting from long range.

ETSU pulled within 11 several times in the final few minutes, but couldn't get closer than that.

UofL continues play in the Hall of Fame Showcase at 1 p.m. Sunday against Morgan State.

"We're going to come back tomorrow and really hit the glass hard," Samuels promised.

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