Cards Escape Buckeyes in Big 10 Challenge

The Louisville Cardinal men’s basketball team once again showed its defensive prowess in a 64-55 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes on Tuesday night, as a part of the ACC-Big 10 challenge. Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell both had monster nights for the Cards, as well as Anas Mahmoud and other younger players stepping up for some quality minutes.

“We were so active defensively, really they didn’t get a good look but two or three times in the first half,” head coach Rick Pitino. “We’re really a good defensive team, I’m really proud of what we’re doing. [The first half] was as fine a half defensively, as we’ve played in a long time here, including past years.”

Blackshear had 22 points, six rebounds and three steals on the night, 16 of his points came in the first half. Harrell recorded a double-double on the night with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The team shot 19-54 (35.2) from the field, and shot 57.1 on free throws, 16-28.

But despite Blackshear and Harrell’s big nights, Pitino said Terry Rozier showed him the most tonight. That’s because Rozier dislocated his pinky during practice, and again during the game and insisted that he was fine and returned after being forced off the court by trainers to relocate the pinky.

“As good as Wayne was, I was really impressed with Terry Rozier,” Pitino said. “The other day in practice, his pinky became an “s”, and the same thing happened tonight. It’s dislocated, you know it’s hurt, you know it’s throbbing, and he took the big shot when we were up three to give us a lead. That’s a hell of a thing for a guy like that to do. I thought he was great down the stretch.”

Anas Mahmoud racked up 24 minutes for the Cards, adding three points, seven rebounds and two blocks to Louisville’s effort. Louisville native Quentin Snider also saw extended playing time with 11 minutes, three points and two rebounds.

“He really played his part,” said Harrell. “He didn’t come in trying to do too much, or make the spectacular play. He just came in, got into the flow of the game, and gave us great minutes off the bench. We’re going to need that down the road. It just goes to show you, even when certain people get in foul trouble, we’ve still got people who can come in the game and contribute.”

The crowd of 22,784 was the fifth-largest in Yum! Center history and Pitino said that was no surprise.

“It was a great game, the atmosphere was awesome” Pitino said. “I knew it would be. It was one of the better atmospheres I’ve seen in my time here. From the moment we came out, it was a great atmosphere.”

D’Angelo Russell led Ohio State with 17 points and six rebounds on the night, no Buckeyes had double-digit rebounds.

UofL’s record advances to 6-0, and they move on to play Florida International University on Friday night at the KFC Yum! Center at 7 p.m.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune