Coach Rick Pitino’s Louisville team will soon face a difficult non-conference schedule. The first two games of it, however, don’t appear quite so tough.
The No. 6 Cardinals look for their second consecutive victory in a Las Vegas Invitational contest to open the season when they host winless Jackson State on Sunday.
This is the second of five games in eight days for Louisville (1-0), which began its season - and the invitational - with a 104-69 rout of Hartford at home on Saturday.
After Sunday’s game, the Cardinals travel to Las Vegas to face UNLV on Wednesday before playing the final two rounds of the invitational, which could include a matchup against top-ranked North Carolina.
Those games promise to be challenging - unlike Saturday’s lopsided victory over the Hawks. Junior forward Terrence Williams recorded the third triple-double in school history with 14 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds to lead seven Cardinals players in double figures.
“You can see what makes us go,” Pitino said. “T-Will obviously passes the ball and makes everybody better.”
Williams wasn’t the only player to have a big offensive day. Louisville shot 55.4 percent from the field and connected on a school-record 22 3-pointers. Junior guard Andre McGee scored all of his team-high 18 points from 3-point range, going 6-for-9 from beyond the arc.
“It was one of those days were it was like throwing a rock in the ocean,” McGee said. “Guys were giving me good passes and I was just stepping in and trying to knock them down.”
While the Cardinals displayed their offensive prowess in a game for the first time this season, Pitino has been seeing when they can do for weeks.
“We’ve been shooting lights out (in practice),” he said, “but all I’ve been thinking about is we must be terrible defensively because we put on that exhibition in practice all the times.”
Pitino could find areas for his team to work on, though, as the Cardinals committed 20 turnovers and outclassed Hartford kept the game close for much of the first half.
A winless Jackson State (0-3) team out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference that is playing its fourth straight road game figures to be similarly overmatched against powerful Louisville.
The Tigers fell 100-61 to Brigham Young on Friday in another Las Vegas Invitational contest. They have been outscored by an average margin of 26 points in their three losses.
Jackson State shot just 33.3 percent from the field Friday and Chris Hyche - with 12 points off the bench - was the only Tiger to reach double figures. The starting lineup combined for just 30 points.
The only other meeting between Jackson State and Louisville was at the Great Alaska shootout in November 1994. The Cardinals won that contest 90-64.