By Dalton Ray —
In their final game before facing rival Kentucky, men’s basketball defeated Grand Canyon 74-56. The Lopes led for 13 minutes in the first half and stayed close for the opening minutes of the second half.
Acting coach David Padgett said he’s not sure why his team continues to have slow starts.
“I don’t have an answer for it, I’m just glad it’s not the other way around. I’m glad we aren’t starting off hot then we’re horrible in the second half,” Padgett said. “We just find a way to respond.”
Junior Ray Spalding led the U of L comeback and finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
“(Spalding) was being aggressive. When he catches it, gathers it and finishes it, it’s strong. He’s a force,” Padgett said. “It’s good to see, but that’s what I expect out of him and I told him that.”
Louisville forced 18 turnovers and cashed in 19 points off them. U of L didn’t have their best performances from the free throw line (67 percent) or 3-point line (21 percent), but didn’t allow GCU to get back into the game once they got up big in the second half.
Senior Quentin Snider added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Full press conference here.
Grand Canyon started with a pair of 3-pointers and Louisville didn’t find their first basket until nearly four minutes into the game.
The Lopes doubled the post, forcing the Cardinals to make quick decisions offensively.
U of L started 3-for-10 from the field, then made six of their next nine to take the lead at 16-15.
The Cardinals struggled to get a stop after scoring, leading to trading blows for the remainder of the half.
Spalding sparked an 10-2 run with six points two rebounds and a steal in the final minutes.
At the half, Louisville led 31-25. The Cardinals went 1-for-11 beyond the arc, but forced 12 GCU turnovers.
The Lopes started the half shooting 4-for-5. Sophomore VJ King picked up his third foul two minutes into the half, forcing him to sit.
Spalding crammed over Alessandro Martin, putting U of L up 40-37. A 9-0 Louisville run followed, leading to a 47-37 lead.
Senior Anas Mahmoud threw down a dunk from Snider then recorded a block on the other end. Snider’s layup put U of L up 53-40, forcing a GCU timeout.
The Cardinals held GCU without a basket for over five minutes, leading to a 59-41 lead.
Louisville went on a five-minute dry spell of their own, but kept their distance with the Lopes.
Adel delivered the final blow with a one-handed tomahawk dunk with 30 seconds to play.
You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477.
Photo by Laurel Slaughter / The Louisville Cardinal