Cards avoid UK's fate, rout MVC's Sycamores

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- The shocking takedown of No. 1 Kentucky Tuesday night by Evansville of the Missouri Valley Conference may have had Indiana State's players thinking they could make it two major upsets in 24 hours for the MVC.


But Louisville also undoubtedly took notice of UK's stumble and was on upset alert, so the No. 4 Cardinals made sure they didn't give the Sycamores a chance to get comfortable and gain confidence.


Louisville started fast and rolled to a 91-62 victory, getting outstanding performances from starters and reserves alike in the second of five straight games in the KFC Yum! Center.


"It's not just UK, it's anybody," UofL coach Chris Mack said. "It happens when the other team gains a lot of confidence. Anybody can beat anybody if your head isn't right and it's nice our guys can learn that from somebody else instead of having to learn it the hard way."


The Cards (3-0) hit 13 of their first 16 shots, had doubled ISU 40-20 with six minutes left in the first half and wound up shooting 58.5 percent (31-53), including 9-of-17 from 3-point range (52.9).


"We have a very talented offensive team, the challenge is going to be when the ball's not going in, but yeah, that's good to see," Mack said of his team's offensive explosion.


The Sycamores made a brief run early in the second half, using a 14-2 spurt to cut  their deficit to 51-40, but UofL retaliated with a 17-2 burst and went on to lead  by as many as 30 points.


"Things got a little squirrley," Mack said. "In the huddle, I told them to just take a deep breath. We needed to be the aggressor, be more physical and not do silly stuff on defense and we were going to be okay."


Four players scored in double figures for the Cards, with Dwayne Sutton notching a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, but the most notable development was the breakout performance by St. Joe grad transfer Fresh Kimble.


Pressed into 26 minutes of action due to Darius Perry's foul trouble, Kimble responded with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.


"It was up to me to be more aggressive, making moves and being a playmaker," Kimball said. "The first two games I felt I didn't give it my all and do what was expected of me, so I came out tonight with a different mindset. We have a lot of pieces and I'm just playing off those guys. Some games opportunities are gonna come to me and I have to be ready. I wouldn't say I felt any pressure, I just felt that for my team I needed to contribute as much as I can."


Kimball, who had scored just six points and hit 2-of-11 shots in his first two games, made 5-of-6 this time. But Mack was just as pleased with his defense.


"It was by far, not even close, Fresh's best game," Mack said. "As good as he was on offense -- hit a three, got in the lane, hit a couple shots, found some guys, drew fouls -- he was every bit the defender that he was the offensive player. He kept guys out of the lane, he closed out driving lanes when it wasn't his man. He just did a phenomenal job, I can't say enough about him."


Kimball and four freshmen were on the floor for the final five minutes, but unlike  the Miami game when the newcomers were outscored 14-0 at the end, they didn't let  Indiana State finish strong.


"You can bet I mentioned Miami in the huddle," Mack said. "I wrote down plus-27. Indiana State was plus-28 and to win by 29 our freshmen did a much better job."


Jordan Nwora led Louisville with 21 points and one of those rookies, Samuell Williamson, continued to show his potential with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists.


Steven Enoch scored only four points but reached double digits in rebounding for the third time in a row with 10.


Tyreke Key, who sparked ISU's rally by scoring 11 straight points, finished with 20. UofL held Jordan Barnes, who had scored 19 points against Dayton in the opener, to seven on 2-of-13 shooting.


Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.

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