The No. 2 Louisville Cardinals opened the season by beating Manhattan 79-51. UofL was led by Russ Smith’s 23 points and 5 steals.
The 20,921 fans in attendance watched a somewhat sloppy first-half of basketball. The Cards took a 29-18 lead into halftime. The second- half provided more offense from both squads. The Cards found their rhythm, but turnovers plagued the Jaspers.
Louisville forced Manhattan to commit 28 turnovers. Of those, 16 were steals which can be credited to UofL’s length and speed advantage. However, Louisville was out rebounded 34-32. Manhattan’s Rhamel Brown grabbed 15 rebounds to go with his 18 points.
Peyton Siva added a double-double for the Cards with 10 points and 10 assist. Siva was 6-6 from the free throw line. Kevin Ware was Louisville’s only other double digit score as he added 10 points and was a perfect 4-4 from the field.
During post game interviews, Russ Smith appeared to be a matured player. The junior guard talked about the work he’s put in shooting. Coach Rick Pitino has encouraged Smith to be closer to the 3-point line when he shoots. Smith was 4-13 from behind the arc. Smith also discussed his ability to steal passes. He said he is trying to be more aware of his opponents skills. If he senses a guard is struggling he will gamble more, but if the ball handler is solid he knows to back off a bit.
Smith also talked about his teammates. Smith said he was unsure what Chane Behanan did in the offseason to cause Pitino to bench him during the two exhibition games, but said the team needs him to rebound. Behanan had a team high 9 boards. Smith then talked about Kevin Ware’s freaky athletic ability. Smith thinks Ware can jump and touch the shot-clock. I’m not sure if Russ was exaggerating, but that would be amazing to see.
Louisville (1-0) will host Samford (0-1) on Thursday, November 15 at 7:00. Samford lost their opener to Austin Peay 64-75.