BOZICH | Louisville, Pitino handle Pittsburgh Yeezy, 106-51
Louisville scored and scored and scored and scored, burying Pittsburgh on a night when U of L coach Rick Pitino flashed his Kanye West-designed Yeezy sneakers.
PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WDRB) – This one had the DNA of a trap game, a dangerous rematch with Pittsburgh, a team that once beat Virginia and Joe Lunardi included in his NCAA Tournament bracket at ESPN.com on Monday.
"It definitely looked like that," said Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell. "But we take trap games very seriously. We looked at it as a win or go home type game. We just lost to Florida State and we didn’t want to drop in the ACC."
Pitt had been off and home for a week. Louisville played its third game in six days, second away from the KFC Yum! Center. U of L coach Rick Pitino has been battling a virus since Sunday morning.
Desperation defined Pitt's pre-game dialogue. The Panthers (1-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) had not won in 20 days and coach Kevin Stallings questioned his team’s performance to the media earlier this week. Motivation edge, Pitt, right?
Wrong. The only trap was thinking this was a trap game.
Louisville. Easy. Ridiculously easy. Historically easy. Looks like a misprint easy.
Make it 106-51 easy, the second-largest loss in Pitt (as in Quit) history.
On a night when Number One (Villanova to Marquette), Number Two (Kansas to West Virginia) and Number Four (Kentucky at Tennessee) all lost, Louisville put itself in position to make another move.
"That was embarrassing to me," Stallings said. "It's an embarrassment to me and it should be an embarrassment to (his players)."
I was embarrassed simply watching. Stallings sounded like a first-season coach who is struggling to keep the attention of his players. He wasn't sure what to say when he was asked if he could bring his team back from this debacle. Pitino, meanwhile, remembered the day Roy Williams once beat him by several trillion at Kansas.
"I think that every game is going to be tough," Pitino said. "But I just sat on the bench and said, 'Boy, is this the biggest shock, with the way we were moving and shooting and so on?' I feel bad for Pitt because it's one of those nights that I've been through in the pros where I've seen it happen."
Bump the Cards up to 17-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC after their most lopsided victory in two-plus seasons in the league. Five Louisville players outscored Pitt's Jamel Artis, the top scorer in the ACC, a guy who just put 43 on Louisville two weeks ago. Give Artis nine -- on 3 for 11 shooting.
The Cards shot better than 58 percent. The Panthers failed to make 26 percent of their field-goal attempts, wheezing to a 4-for-25 performance in the first half. It looked worse than that.
Here is another sign of how easy this was for Louisville: During the first half, the conversation the Pittsburgh students sitting near me had centered around this question:
Was Pitino really wearing a pair of $1,000-plus Yeezy sneakers designed by Kanye West for adidas?
He was. Pitino said the shoes were extremely comfortable.
"But everybody wants to steal them from me," he said.
(Confession: The fans also discussed several other topics: Why did anybody think that Stallings was the best guy for Pitt to hire after Jamie Dixon left for TCU last spring? Would Ben Roethlisberger really retire from the Steelers?)
The Cards led 8-2, 12-3, 24-7, 31-11 and the beatdown went on and on and on. I quit taking notes before halftime.
Mitchell had a first half similar to the first half he delivered last Thursday against Clemson. Mitchell scored 16 points, making four of six shots from distance.
Pitt attempted twice as many three-pointers as Louisville in the first 20 minutes. The Panthers did not make any.
Mitchell finished with 29 points in merely 25 minutes, making a half-dozen three-point shots, his career high.
"Personally I just wanted to be more aggressive," Mitchell said. "I knew that was going to be their mentality. We just wanted to go out there and play our best basketball and we did. We got it from everybody. It wasn’t just from one person."
Pitt did not have any size to match up against Louisville center Anas Mahmoud – and it showed. Mahmoud scored four field goals before the entire Pitt team scored four field goals. Mahmoud tried seven shots – and made seven shots. Credit him with 14 points and a pair of blocks. "Anas came out on fire," Mitchell said.
Tony Hicks scored 10. So did Deng Adel.
Here are the fun stats: Ryan McMahon had a career high 15, making five of seven three-pointers. That's correct: McMahon outscored Artis.
Credit Jay Henderson with four points and Tyler Sharpe with two. They’re walk-ons and they were on court longer than Stallings in the second half.
"We absolutely did not expect a game like this," Mahmoud said. "Last game they came back. We expected a completely different game. We came out the first half and played so hard. Everything went our way."
Pittsburgh has long featured a raucous student section, known across the Big East and then the ACC as the Oakland Zoo. By halftime, most of the Zoo was closed. Many students did two things: Booed the Panthers and then went home.
Even Stallings could not take much more. He was whistled for two quick technical fouls early in the second half, exiting the floor to more boos with nearly 15 minutes to play. "Their defense is difficult to play against, no matter how he plays it," Stallings said.
Louisville will return home for a Sunday game against North Carolina State at 1 p.m. The Wolfpack have won three of eight ACC games, upsetting Duke, 84-82 Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Cardinals beat N.C. State, 77-72, in Raleigh last season.
North Carolina State has lost by 51 this season (to North Carolina), but not by 55.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.