CRAWFORD | Meme-worthy if not memorable -- Louisville pounds Jac - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Meme-worthy if not memorable -- Louisville pounds Jacksonville 88-39

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Pitino said Chris Jones was the bright spot of U of L's 88-39 win over Jacksonville State on Monday. Pitino said Chris Jones was the bright spot of U of L's 88-39 win over Jacksonville State on Monday.
 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This game was too ugly even for the Internet. In the first of four University of Louisville games this season slated by ESPN to be broadcast on the web only, the No. 7-ranked Cardinals throttled Jacksonville State 88-39.

The Gamecocks managed only 20 first-half points. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, they scored only two. U of L coach Rick Pitino called off the dogs about six minutes into the half, but it didn't help much. U of L led 76-22 with 9:26 left in the game, when its 2-3 zone appeared to relax enough to let the Gamecocks get some shots off.

Jacksonville State shaved only two points off its deficit during the nearly eight-minute stretch at the end of the game where Louisville had walk-ons Dylan Avare and Trent Gilbert running the show.

In his 14th home opener at Louisville, Pitino improved to 14-0 and walked away with his biggest margin of victory in an opener since his first game at U of L -- a 92-38 win over South Alabama in 2001. Jacksonville State, which hasn't won a game since January of last season, shot just 28 percent from the field and was outrebounded 60-28. The Cardinals scored 1.25 points per possession, and the number was 1.6 per possession when Pitino lifted his starters early in the second half.

There's only so much, besides a good haul from the concession stands, that you can gain from such a game. But Pitino came away with a couple of things he liked.

"The best part of the game was our passing in the first half," Pitino said. "It was as good as I've seen it in quite some time. Interior passing -- it all stems from Chris Jones' play. He kept getting rebounds and missed shots and making great passes. I thought he was brilliant tonight and obviously we were physically overmatching them, so it's tough to tell a lot of good things. But the passing in the first half was brilliant and really pleasing to watch."

It wasn't pleasing to Jacksonville coach James Green, who said of Louisville: "This might be the best team we've played anywhere I've ever been. . . . Unfortunately, I was hoping that we would give them a little bit more and actually help them with the game also, but I'm not sure we were able to do that other than giving some of their reserve guys minutes."

 Wayne Blackshear played 27 minutes. Montrezl Harrell logged only 24 and starting guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones only 22 each.

Harrell, after going 5 of 8 from outside the paint in U of L's first game, had less luck from the perimeter Monday night, going 0 of 3 from three-point range. He still went 6 of 12 from the field, thanks to four dunks, and scored a team-high 15 points. But Pitino said he wants to see Harrell get more post-up opportunities on the fast break, rather than spotting up for jumpers in transition.

Jones went just 4-13 from the field, but had six rebounds, five assists and five steals in 22 minutes.

Terry Rozier finished with 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting, and Blackshear and freshman Chinanu Onuaku finished with a dozen each. Onuaku started again at center and turned in the first double-double of his career, with 10 rebounds.

"He's a really good passer, great interior passer," Pitino said. "We had a very brief conversation today. I said son, look, I'm going to tell you the way it is. We're going to play a bear of a schedule. We wanted to play you 12 or 16 minutes (a game) and bring you along slowly. But I don't have that luxury. I need you to be a killer out there, and I need you to do it now. I've got to have you become a big-time player in your freshman year. And I thought tonight from an effort standpoint he was a big-time player, even though he overmatched his opponent."

Beyond that, Pitino liked that his team maintained its defensive intensity even after going to the half with a 50-20 lead.

"When you have a lead, it's a tough thing to play, you get a lead, you change your style, you get everybody minutes, you just try to stay away from injuries," Pitino said. "I just think they were very focused to come out and play basketball. They knew this team lost by 25 the other night. They didn't even think about that. They just went out there and said, 'We're Louisville on the front and we're going to play like a Louisville basketball team.' And they took care of business. And that's very pleasing for a coach to see that."

Freshmen Matz Stockman, Anas Mahmoud, Avare and Gilbert all made their U of L debuts and Pitino said after the game that he doesn't plan to redshirt anyone on the team.

The game was part of the five-team round-robin Global Sports Showcase. Next up for the Cards is a 9 p.m. matchup against Marshall on Friday night in the KFC Yum! Center.

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