CRAWFORD | Three quick thoughts on Louisville's 89-61 win over N - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Three quick thoughts on Louisville's 89-61 win over North Florida

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The North Florida University basketball team lived up to its billing on Saturday. But it didn’t matter. Despite 11 three-pointers from the visiting Ospreys, the University of Louisville basketball team used its most impressive half of the season to roll to an 89-61 victory.

The Cardinals led by only two at the half, but sped away in the second — in a hurry. After making their first five shots of the half, the Cards missed their next five. They then made 13 of their next 14, while hurrying North Florida into bad shots and turnovers. (Click to the right for stats.)

Freshman Ray Spalding entered early in the first half and immediately started making a difference, with deflections, sharp passing, and steals. He and starting center Chinanu Onuaku combined for nine steals, while Spalding finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll is a believer.

"I’m a Top 25 (coaches poll) voter, and I’ve been voting them since the beginning," Driscoll said. "Anybody who doesn’t think they’re a Top 25 team -- I’ve been coaching for 28 years, and I’ve coached in the Big 12, ACC -- all that good stuff, these jokers are back to the Louisville team that you guys always remember. They might’ve been more skilled last year with (Terry) Rozier and (Wayne) Blackshear and (Montrezl) Harrell, but this team has got no identity with names, and every identity with Rick."

Needless to say, Louisville coach Rick Pitino was pleased with his team. Of its second half, he said, "That was an awesome, awesome display of basketball. It was as good a half, against a good team, that I've seen in this building -- on both ends. I was very proud of our guys. We beat a very good basketball team."

Three takeaways from the victory:

1. SPALDING CAN PLAY. On Thursday, Pitino mentioned Spalding as a candidate for JV games. I’m not so sure. It may yet turn out to be the case, when the competition heats up, but he’s so active and makes so many things happen that he’s going to be tough to keep off the court.

Spalding made his first seven shots from the field, had a couple of blocked shots and was active defensively both inside and on the perimeter. He finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.

2. LEE LIT IT UP. The Louisville transfer graduate student got hot to open the second half, making 6 of 7 shots, including a pair of three pointers and a pair of assists, to get the Cardinal offense going.

Lee finished with 24 points, 7 rebounds and three assists.

3. THE SHOOTING SHOWED UP. All offseason, the talk was that this would be a better perimeter-shooting U of L team. That hadn’t always manifested itself, but in the second half on Saturday, it did.

The Cards shot 61.8 percent in the half, making 21 of 34 shots, including 2 of 5 from three-point range. They shot 50.7 percent in the game, scoring on 62.3 percent of their possessions (a clip of 1.29 points per possession).

Trey Lewis was the only other double-figure scorer for the Cards, with 15 points on 7 of 16 shooting.

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