No. 5 Louisville beats DePaul 99-54
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—Louisville got back on the winning side, while it was more of the same old losing for DePaul.
The fifth-ranked Cardinals started out all business on Sunday against the Blue Demons but by the end it was all fun for the Cardinals, who had a season-high point total in a 99-54 victory.
The loss was the 13th straight for DePaul (8-18, 0-13 Big East), matching its worst streak ever.
The Cardinals (19-5, 10-2) were coming off their worst loss of the season, 90-57 to Notre Dame, an embarrassment, coach Rick Pitino called it. Pitino didn’t even want his team wearing their school’s name.
“They took away our practice gear and we practiced in shorts and T-shirts,” Cardinals guard Preston Knowles said. “We disgraced our name.”
But another win, even if it was against the team with the worst record in the conference, was the medicine they needed.
“Coach said play in the now,” Louisville’s Jerry Smith said. “They will forget about that loss if you win today. We wanted to get our point across early.”
Knowles, a reserve guard usually known for his tenacity on defense, led Louisville with 19 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, and two steals.
“When I’m in a zone like I don’t think I can miss, all I need is a little space to get open, and my teammates got me the ball,” Knowles said.
Reginald Delk, in his first career start for Louisville, scored a career-high 10 and made both of his 3-point attempts.
Eight Cardinals made a 3-pointer, combining for a season-high 18.
Delk started in place of Terrence Williams, who is nursing an injured right wrist and had started 96 consecutive games. Williams played 15 minutes and had five assists, two rebounds, and didn’t take a shot.
Pitino said the Cardinals were going into a hornets’ nest before the Notre Dame game and DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright had an idea that he might be facing an angry swarm in Louisville.
“Basketball is not about who you play, but when you play them,” Wainwright said. “It was a bad time for us to play them. It was a great lesson for our young kids.”
Sophomore Dar Tucker led the Blue Demons with 17 points, and fellow sophomore Mac Koshwal had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cardinals were more focused than usual from the beginning. There was no laughing during warmups before Sunday’s game and no flying chest bumps as the lineups were introduced.
“After we got punished, how could you high-five coming off a 30-point loss?” Earl Clark asked.
They scored the first 13 points of the game and went on to a 51-21 halftime lead. Louisville largest lead of the game was 99-52 with 38 seconds to play.
Louisville forced the Blue Demons into 16 turnovers and held them to 35 percent shooting from the field. The Cardinals outrebounded DePaul 43-31.
Clark led the Cardinals with 11 rebounds, and was close to a triple-double with 12 points and eight assists.
The Cardinals got the opening tip, followed by a quick layup by Delk and poured it on from there. Minutes later, Delk hit his first 3-pointer to make it 9-0.
In the second half, even with a 30-point lead, Pitino wanted to make sure his team kept its focus. Tucker, Will Walker and Jeremiah Kelly each hit a 3-pointer during the first few minutes of the second half, prompting a timeout by Pitino with 16:48 to play and the Cardinals up 58-30. The closest DePaul would get in the second half was 27 points twice.
“We have to move forward,” Knowles said. “We still have our main goal.”
A Big East championship is still within Louisville’s reach but it’s a long shot. Sunday’s win puts them in a three-way tie for second with Pittsburgh and Marquette, which they will play on March 1. First-place Connecticut, with a conference record of 12-1, hosts Pittsburgh on Monday.