Playing three games in three days University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino wanted to get three wins, and get a little better idea of what his team could do.
He got both. The Cardinals completed their sweep of the Hall of Fame Showcase with their 80-53 win over Appalachian State in front of 19,027 fans at Freedom Hall on Monday night.
"I thought we did a terrific job tonight for the third game in three nights," Pitino said. "I thought offensively tonight we were really, really focused on where we needed to score."
UofL (4-0) shot 53.7 percent (29 of 54) from the field, including 66.7 percent (18 of 27) from two-point range as the Cards outscored the Mountaineers 30-6 in the paint.
Sophomore center Samardo Samuels led Louisville with 16 points, while guards Preston Knowles and Edgar Sosa added 11 points apiece. Jared Swopshire tallied 10 points and nine rebounds, while freshman forward Rakeem Buckles added six points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
"I thought Rock was excellent tonight, he was so active on the glass and on the defensive end," Pitino said.
The Cards, who are off to only their second 4-0 start since the 1997-98 season (the 2005-06 team started 6-0), forced Appalachian State into 16 turnovers and held the Mountaineers to 34 percent (18 of 53) shooting.
Appalachian State (2-3), which lost in overtime at Arkansas on Friday night, was outscored 41-23 in the second half.
"It's been a long trip for us, Arkansas Friday and then up here to Louisville," Mountaineers coach Buzz Peterson said. "I'll say this, as the game went on we wore down, especially with Louisville's size inside. We've seen a couple of their games before. Samuels is a load in the middle.
"At halftime I was pleased with what our guys had done. We're a team that turns the ball over way too much, so we were concerned about the press. Overall I was pleased with what we did there. They were just too much for us. They hit outside shots and that opens up the inside a little bit and it got away from us. This Louisville team, you look at the roster and they've got some young players but they're very talented with a kid inside like that and Sosa with his experience. They've got a good shot to make a good run this year."
Appalachian State made an early run at the Cards behind the hot shooting of junior guard Donald Sims, who had equaled UofL's eight points after the first three and a half minutes.
The Cards, though, used a 12-0 run to take control. Terrence Jennings capped the surge with a two-handed dunk off an assist from freshman guard Peyton Siva.
"I thought we saw how deep we are," said Siva, who contributed five points, four steals and three assists off the bench. "Everybody is going into the game and gaining confidence."
Louisville led 39-30 at halftime. The Cards shot 51.7 percent (15 of 29), including 69.2 percent (9 for 13) from two-point range, while making 6 of 16 (37.5 percent) of their three-point tries. Appalachian State, meanwhile, shot 50 percent (6 of 12) from three-point range, but only 25 percent (4 for 16) from two-point range.
Samuels and Preston Knowles had eight points apiece in the first half, though Samuels was just 2 for 6 from the foul line. Swopshire added five points and seven rebounds, while Sims led the Mountaineers with 11 points.
Samuels accounted for the Cards first six points of the second half with a free throw, an assist to Knowles for a three, and a turnaround to make it 45-30.
It was all Louisville from there.
Sims led Appalachian State with 19 points, while reserve Jeremi Booth added 14 points for the Mountaineers.
"We wanted to be challenged with this tournament, we were, now we move on," Pitino said.
UofL plays at UNLV at 4 p.m. Saturday before returning for eight straight home games in December.
"We're there for business," Pitino said of team's planned Thanksgiving in Las Vegas.