Youngstown State will have hands full vs. No. 5 Louisville
In the first game of what many think could be a Final Four season, No. 5 Louisville certainly looked the part Tuesday night with an 87-74 Atlantic Coast Conference win at Miami.
Now the Cardinals start a long stretch of home games against seemingly overmatched nonconference opposition, beginning Sunday at KFC Yum! Center against the Horizon League's Youngstown State.
Eighteen NBA scouts from 13 teams eyeballed Louisville's season opener and most got an eyeful of 6-foot-7 junior forward Jordan Nwora, who lit up the Hurricanes for 23 points and 12 rebounds. The Cardinals ripped off 18 straight first-half points and led by as many as 32 points in the second half.
"For the first 32 minutes, I was really pleased with our team," said second-year Louisville coach Chris Mack. "We weren't the same team the last eight minutes, but I don't expect that in game one. We know that regardless of the outcome, we were going to have to grow from this, and I feel no differently now."
Five players scored in double figures for the Cardinals, who canned 54 percent of their field goal tries and went 9-for-19 from the 3-point line. Given how many teams have struggled with the longer 3-point line in their first game, that's a particularly noteworthy showing.
Like most ACC coaches, Mack wasn't thrilled that he had to start the season with a conference game because of the conference's decision to expand to a 20-game schedule. But it didn't appear to hurt his team in the least.
"I don't know if you were expecting some machine to come out here," he said when asked about a ragged first four minutes. "It was the first time on this stage for some of these guys. We were playing against two of the better perimeter players in the conference, but we got better as time went along."
Meanwhile, the Penguins also started their season Tuesday with a one-sided win, albeit against a much lesser foe. Six players reached double figures as they walloped Division III opponent Thiel 101-53.
Darius Quisenberry collected 16 points and dished out six assists for Youngstown State, which was picked fourth in the Horizon's preseason poll. The Penguins scored 34 points off 24 Thiel turnovers and enjoyed a 56-12 advantage in points in the paint while converting nearly 53 percent of their field goal attempts.
"Tonight was our starting point," Youngstown State coach Jerrod Calhoun said. "There's certainly some things that we need to get better at quick, but I thought we did a good job taking care of the basketball. We got a little 3-point happy, but that will happen in your first game."
This is the first meeting of the two schools.
--Field Level Media