CRAWFORD | Credit Dickie V -- Louisville's McMahon did more than - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Credit Dickie V -- Louisville's McMahon did more than shoot in win over Long Beach State

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Ryan McMahon (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Ryan McMahon (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)
Click to enlarge stat sheet. Click to enlarge stat sheet.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — To dispatch with the basics — Long Beach State continued its annual cross-country cash march with a guarantee-game loss to No. 8-ranked Louisville 88-56 before a Thursday afternoon crowd of 14,337 at the KFC Yum! Center.

It was the lowest attended regular-season game in years for Louisville, in part because many ticket holders were still at work and many others were preparing for a big football game that night. The game originally was scheduled to tip off at night, but was moved so as not to overlap with football.

Those football fans might well have wished they had stuck with the basketball game.

Regardless, the few and the proud (relatively speaking) at the KFC Yum! Center saw the Cardinals beat Long Beach State worse than North Carolina (25) but not quite as bad as Wichita State (38). Louisville jumped out to a 30-8 lead, sparked by a 23-2 run. The Cards (3-0) opened the game by making 11 of their first 13 shots while hounding Long Beach into 11 straight misses at one point.

“For the first 11 to 11:30, that was the best offense and defense I've seen in two years,” Cardinals’ coach Rick Pitino said. “Not since the championship team have I seen passing like that, cutting like that, and then turning it around and playing defense like that. Then we went a little bit one-on-one and broke down a little bit because we had a lead, but that was really, really special to see.”

All of that was despite a starting backcourt that had a rough night. Quentin Snider went 1-for-10 from the field. Donovan Mitchell had just fought off a fever and went 3-for-10.

Redshirt freshman Ryan McMahon saw his most extensive action of the season, in favor of fifth-year transfer Tony Hicks. McMahon played 15 minutes and hit a pair of three-pointers. He also dished out five assists (the last on a lob to Jaylen Johnson for a slam) blocked a shot and collected a steal.

McMahon, you’ll remember, was the Sarasota, Fla., sharpshooter recommended to Pitino by ESPN analyst Dick Vitale. Now, the more Rick Pitino watches him play, the more intrigued he is by him.

“We know he can shoot but is he affecting the game in other ways, like with five assists and five rebounds,” Pitino said. “I was just impressed with his defense. He's got a lot of savvy. I've got to give Dick Vitale credit. He discovered him, we listened to him. He's now 1 for 7. If (Vitale) would have done that at the Pistons and drafting people, he would have been much better. I do have to give him credit because without Dick recommending him, because he was being recruited by all lower Division 1 schools and he says 'I guarantee he can play for you.' I went and I liked him so I give him all the credit in the world. He found him, he believed in him, and he's going to be a really good player someday.”

Vitale gave Pitino some credit, too. After I Tweeted what Pitino said, Vitale Tweeted this back:

Regardless, McMahon said he’s grateful for the opportunity.

“I spent all last year picking Q’s brain and Trey Lewis’ about playing point guard and how I could do that better, because I know that’s what I‘m going to have to play here,” McMahon said. “So I’ve tried to study and learn what I can do on the court to try to help make guys better, and that’s a big challenge.”

Long Beach coach Dan Monson was impressed with the offense.

“This is our third time here and I think this is the best offensive team they have had,” he said. “They just have lots of ways to score and some years they have been more of a grind-it out-team, but I'm really impressed with their balance. Their defense is always suffocating, but I just thought that we made some mistakes and they made us pay every time. They really make open shots.”

Jaylen Johnson led Louisville with 14 points on 7-11 shooting, and added 11 rebounds in his 18 minutes. Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang added 11 points each, and Ray Spalding had 10.

After three games, Johnson leads the Cardinals with 15.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. The Cardinals are holding opponents to 29.3 percent shooting and winning by an average of 32 per game.

“Jaylen is just - he's doing everything we'd hoped for and then more,” Pitino said. “He's going after every single rebound. He considers every shot a pass to him. He's posting up well. He's being very physical. It's great play by him, you got to really give him all the credit in the world, because when you play 18 minutes and get 14-11, shooting 7 for 11, that's a pretty darn good day's work."

"He worked very hard this summer. He went with his AAU coach and worked hard in Chicago and he just did what he had to do. He was highly, highly motivated to be a better basketball player and I think he recognized that he was out of shape. And if he would've gone after the ball like he did twice, he would be gassed and couldn't do it. Now he can sustain it for long minutes. He hasn't played long minutes yet. I didn't expect to have routs like this in the first three games and I can guarantee you it won't happen again this season.”

The Cards return to action next Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. against Old Dominion in the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

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