By Sam Draut
The Cardinals did not get caught up in the emotions Saturday night in Storrs Connecticut, and instead, walked out with their first signature win of the season.
The eighteenth ranked University of Louisville men’s basketball team defeated Connecticut 76-64.
Midway through the second half, while in the act of shooting behind the three point line, Connecticut forward Niels Giffey was bumped by Louisville forward Wayne Blackshear, but no call was made, as the ball was deflected out of bounds.
The apparent no call enraged Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie, who was quickly charged with a technical foul, and seconds later, received a second technical foul and ejection.
“I lost my composure. And I told my guys that. In the heat of the moment, you can’t lose your composure,” Ollie said. “I just thought it was a foul. We were down by nine, and Niels is a pretty good shooter.”
While Connecticut was fuming, 16-3 U of L quietly extended its lead to 16, leading 54-38 with less than 11 minutes left to play in the second half.
Connecticut came out resilient to start the second half, going on a 6-0 run in the first eighty seconds to tie the game, but Louisville responded with an extended eight minute 20-4 run.
Russ Smith scored 23 points and hit 12 of 15 free throws, scoring ten points in the final four minutes to close out the game.
Montrezl Harrell commanded the low post, scoring 18 points and adding 13 rebounds. Luke Hancock added 13 points and five rebounds.
With guard Chris Jones out with a hip injury, freshman guard Terry Rozier played extended minutes, contributing with five points, seven rebounds, and two assists.
Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright were the only two Huskies who scored in double figures. Napier finished with 30 points, hitting five 3 point field goals. Boatwright added 10 points.
The victory over Connecticut marks the Cardinals first win against a team in the RPI top 25, Louisville was previously 0-3 in match ups against teams rated in the RPI’s top 25.
“We’re really starting to play good basketball. Our defense has picked up, our rebounding has picked up,” U of L head coach Pitino said.
U of L will continue its road trip when it faces South Florida in Tampa Wednesday night at 7:00.