BOZICH | Beat Indiana and Kentucky? Louisville closes 2016 with - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Beat Indiana and Kentucky? Louisville closes 2016 with gusto

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CBS selected Anas Mahmoud as its Star of the Game after Louisville defeated Indiana. CBS selected Anas Mahmoud as its Star of the Game after Louisville defeated Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WDRB) — Perturbed callers were lighting up Lines One, Two, Three, Four and Five to talk about the Louisville and Indiana basketball teams this week.

That’s what happens when teams start conference play with homecourt losses. That’s what happens when one team (Louisville) no-shows on offense and the other (Indiana) no-shows on defense.

That’s also what happens when the two programs were booked to play the first of their three-game series Saturday afternoon at Bankers’ Life Fieldhouse.

Consider the Cardinals the Kings of Kentuckiana.

Louisville fans have a 77-62 victory over Indiana to celebrate with the Cardinals’ late December success over Kentucky. Pitino shook up his starting lineup and confetti came flying out as Donovan Mitchell (four three-pointers, 25 points) and Deng Adel (three threes, 17 points) punished the Hoosiers.

"We came out with great defense from the first possession," Mitchell said. "I think that’s what triggered it. We worked in practice just stopping them as much as we could.

"Having Anas (Mahmoud) out there just getting those blocks and Ray (Spalding) with his long arms out there ... Once we got those few stops at the beginning of the game we were kind of juiced up."

"Our defense was great tonight," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "We had 40 deflections in the game."

Expect the grumbling in Southern Indiana to upgrade to a howl. The Hoosiers have lost back-to-back games for the first time in 21 months and looked flawed (soft at the rim) and shaky (turnover city) while doing it.  

Indiana dribbled too much, passed too little, fumbled too consistently and left shooters uncovered. The howling around this team won’t be as loud as it was after the Hoosiers started last season with losses to Wake Forest, UNLV and Duke, but it’s getting there. They're 10-4 -- with losses to IPFW and Nebraska stuck to their resume.

The first signs of holiday indigestion were in the starting lineups. Pitino swapped out three Louisville starters. Tom Crean replaced one.

For Pitino, Mitchell, Mangok Mathiang and Jaylen Johnson went to the bench, replaced by freshman V.J. King, Raymond Spalding and Anas Mahmoud.

Those three guys were a collective five for 15 in the Cards’ eight-point loss to Virginia Wednesday. Mathiang had not made a shot in Louisville’s last three games. Pitino was not disappointed by Mitchell’s sagging field goal percentage. He was disappointed that he stopped looking confident and aggressive while shooting the ball. 

For Crean, freshman forward De’Ron Davis earned his first career start, taking OG Anunoby’s place.

How much did the shuffled lineups help?

Not much on offense. Indiana suffered a shot clock violation on the Hoosiers’ first possession. They turned the ball over six times in the first 8 minutes. They did not have a two-point field goal in the first five minutes. Mahmoud's length made it difficult for Indiana to score around the rim.

Louisville did not have the turnover issues, but the Cardinals also could not make shots, missing six of their first eight attempts.

The turnover issue lingered through the first half for the Hoosiers. So did the stiff shooting. Louisville pushed ahead 23-20 when Curtis Jones dribbled the ball off the end line to give Indiana nine turnovers in barely a dozen minutes. 

By halftime Louisville led, 39-27. Mahmoud was Louisville’s best player. The Cards were 13 points better than IU when Mahmoud was on the court. He made three of four shots, distributed a pair of assists and blocked three shots.

Deng Adel made less than 29 percent of his three-point shots in his first 10 games. He made three straight to start the game for the Cardinals.

Robert Johnson has been Indiana’s most consistent three-point shooter this season. Johnson went 0-for-Indianapolis. He took four shots from distance in the first half and made none. The percentages never approached Johnson’s season average of 46.4. He missed four more in the second half. 

You didn’t have to be Red Auerbach to diagnose Indiana’s problems — 11 first-half turnovers and only eight points in the paint.

"Our turnovers at the beginning of the game were ridiculous," Crean said. "I mean they weren't even forced."

With more than a dozen NBA scouts watching, Mahmoud dominated Indiana’s cover boy, Thomas Bryant, who labored to score five points in the first 20 minutes. Check Mahmoud's final numbers. He outscored Bryant, 10-8, and also blocked three shots with a pair of steals.

"(Bryant) was trying to get his touches in the paint," Mahmoud said. "All I was doing was playing defense and try not to foul. He missed a couple of shots and he got frustrated because I was making my shots. He’s a good player. It just wasn’t his day today."

The key flurry in the game came after the 12-minute media timeout in the second half. The crowd was alive after Indiana sliced a 16-point Louisville lead to six — 50-44. Indiana had the ball after forcing a turnover.

Time for playmakers to make plays. Louisville made them.

Spalding stripped Morgan near midcourt. That led to a Donovan Mitchell three. Indiana fumbled the ball away for 14th time. Mitchell drove for another score. Anunoby rallied the Hoosiers with a dunk but not for long. Mitchell made another three and the Cards’ six-point lead had quickly doubled. 

Mitchell's 25 points were a career high and confirmation of the kind of player he can be. Think about this: Mitchell made as many threes as the entire IU team. He made half of his eight while the Hoosiers were 4 for 21.

"They shoot threes all over the place," Mahmoud said. "Their starting five, theyre all shooters. They all shoot it except Number 20 (Davis). We knew that from scouting. We knew that today if we wanted to win we had to keep their field goal percentage down, play defense and rebound the ball."

"There's not too many times we're going to shoot as bad as we did tonight," said IU guard James Blackmon Jr, who had 10 points.

Nothing gets easier for either team. Indiana plays host to Big Ten favorite Wisconsin Tuesday. Louisville travels to Notre Dame Wednesday. It's conference play only going forward.

Copyright 2015 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved. 

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