CRAWFORD | Harrell's slams, guards' toughness lead Louisville to 94-74 win over IU
Indiana had runs in each half, but Louisville's guard play was too good, and Montrezl Harrell was too much, as the No. 4-ranked Cardinals pulled away late for a 94-74 win in Madison Square Garden.
Wednesday, December 10th 2014, 12:08 am EST by
Wednesday, December 10th 2014, 1:42 am EST
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — In one of the more entertaining games of the early season in college basketball, Louisville and Indiana raced up and down, jacked up threes, and traded poster-worthy dunks, but in the end, IU couldn't find enough defense and U of L made enough jump shots to roll to a 94-74 victory in the Jimmy V Classic nightcap in Madison Square Garden.
"We haven't been able to play this style in a while, where you go up and down and up and down like a ping pong match," U of L coach Rick Pitino said after the game. "Very few teams want to play that way. We were more than happy to do it and it was exciting."
Essentially, the Cardinals had Montrezl Harrell, and the Hoosiers had no answer. The All-American had 21 points on 10 of 13 shooting on a night he passed Pervis Ellison to become U of L's all-time dunk leader.
"Montrezl Harrell is, I think, the best player in the country," Pitino told ESPN's Andy Katz in a postgame interview for ESPN's SportsCenter. "I think he's awesome. Thank God he came back, because it's made us a very good basketball team."
The No. 4-ranked Cardinals (8-0) built a 13-point first-half lead, but saw it shrink to five by halftime as IU (7-2) made some big threes and Harrell went to the bench with his second foul.
IU kept it going to start the second half, eventually going up four as it completed a 19-2 run from the end of the first half, but Louisville stabilized, with some veteran leadership and better half-court offensive execution once it fell behind.
The Cardinals' guards were outstanding. Chris Jones sparked a 10-0 run with seven points of his own, then grabbed a big defensive rebound and found Terry Rozier for a three to put the Cardinals back up 58-52. Jones gave the U of L half-court offense some shape in the second half. He finished with 24 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Terry Rozier was just as good. He added a career-high 26 points and six rebounds as the Cardinal guards relentlessly poured into the IU defense for points and dishes.
"Our backcourt, you talk about a tough kid from Cleveland (Rozier) and a tough kid from Memphis (Jones), tough kid from Chicago (Wayne Blackshear) at the small forward, Montrezl Harrell, doesn't get any tougher," Pitino told Bob Valvano on his postgame radio show from Learfield Sports. He then singled out Mangok Mathiang, who wasn't expected to play but got the call from Pitino when starter Chinanu Onuaku struggled picking up IU's perimeter-oriented attack. He finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in just 17 minutes.
"Mangok's a tough kid," Pitino said. "Most kids would not go in the game and say I'm going to embarrass myself with a high ankle sprain. That's difficult. He's been out a long time that he didn't practice, and he gave us a big lift.
The Cardinals pummeled IU on the boards, outrebounding the Hoosiers 52-34 and 26-10 on the offensive glass, outscoring IU 25-11 on second-chance points and 48-38 in the paint. The Hoosiers made 7 of 10 three-pointers in the first half, but managed just 1 of 10 in the second half and committed 19 turnovers. Pitino said fatigue played a factor in the Hoosiers' second-half shooting.
He said he told his team, "If you keep the pace up and you push out a little bit and be ready to switch -- we played all man basically -- I want you just to come back in transition, play zone, and on the first pass you're man (to-man defense). If you just come up, they're going to drive to the basket, move your feet, but keep the offensive pace, don't let them rest, they'll lose their legs on the jump shots if you do that and I thought we did a good job of that."
U of L's offense, by contrast, was sharper in the second half. The Cards shot 48.4 percent from the field (15 of 31) and made 4 of 9 three-point tries to match IU with eight for the game.
Pitino was happy with his team's passing, coming off what he said was the team's best practice of the season on Monday in front of a group of New York Knicks officials.
"They are very difficult to defend because they will play five people on the perimeter and drive on you," Pitino said. "You can't help because they shoot it so well, but the second half we did an outstanding job. We just wanted to keep the offensive pressure on them. Even if our defense wasn't as good as it has been, we wanted to keep the offensive pressure on them."
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