LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --- Chane Behanan was named MVP of the 12th annual Billy Minardi Classic, and walk-on Tim Henderson provided additional production off the bench, as No. 6 Louisville beat Western Kentucky 79-63 Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center.
Behanan contributed 11 of the Cardinals' 33 bench points, to go along with seven rebounds.
"I thought Chane Behanan, Tim Henderson, and Mangok Mathiang were the guys that impacted the game," said Louisville head coach Rick Pitino after the win. "I think Chane Behanan, to me, is the guy that sticks out. He looked like a great basketball player."
Two of those names are not players UofL fans have heard Rick Pitino praise yet this season. Henderson came in for freshman Terry Rozier, who started in place of an injured Chris Jones (sprained hand), and scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, adding 4 assists with no turnovers. Mathiang shot a perfect 5-of-5 from the field for 13 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Louisville (9-1) trailed WKU (5-4) by 4 with 8:22 left in the 1st half, before taking a 31-28 lead at halftime. Around the midway point of the 1st half, the Cards were -8 in rebounding margin, before finishing +12 over about the last 10 minutes of the half.
Still leading by only six with 11:26 to go in the game, UofL went on a 13-0 run to lead with six of those points coming from Behanan on dunks or lay-ups. That ultimately put the game out of reach.
Almost lost in the bench production was Russ Smith's double-double for Louisville. The senior scored 14 points and dished out 10 assists with just two turnovers, but that was not lost on his coach.
"This is not taking a shot at anybody else, because my admiration for these guys is incredible. I think (Julius) Randle up the street is a phenomenal basketball player. I think Jabari Parker is awesome," said Pitino. "All these guys are great, but Russ Smith is the premier player in the country. And I say that because everyone always wants something new."
Overall, Louisville had just seven turnovers in the game to 19 team assists. The Cardinals will next host an 8-1 Missouri State team Tuesday at the KFC Yum! Center.