No. 3 Louisville blows out Hofstra
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)
Ten minutes later, No. 3 Louisville (2-0) had scored 35 of the next 37 points en route to a 97-69 win against the Pride (1-2).
It wasn't the Cardinals' second half spurt that had Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich wondering what might have been. It was his team's 22 turnovers, including 12 in the first 12:16 of the game.
''I thought we shot ourselves in the foot a few too many times,'' Mihalich said.
Still, the Pride's first-year head man found plenty of positives from the early-season test against one of the nation's top teams — a continued calming influence from graduate transfers Dion Nesmith and Zeke Upshaw and a strong team shooting performance.
''Without them, I just can't imagine what it'd be like,'' Mihalich said of Nesmith and Upshaw, who were eligible immediately this season after graduating from Monmouth and Illinois State respectively. ''They have the miles on tires. They've been through the big games. Our guys look up to them.''
Nesmith scored a team-high 24 points, making 5-of-7 3-pointers. Upshaw had 17, including three from long range.
Upshaw faced the eventual national champions last season with Illinois State, nearly pulling off an upset before losing 69-66.
''I told the guys about last year and I felt like we had a good chance and do the same thing,'' said Upshaw, who had a career-high 22 points in the season-opening loss to Monmouth. ''We came close to that. Sort of at the end, we just beat ourselves with turnovers.''
Hofstra shot an impressive 58 percent from behind the arc, connecting on 14 of 25 attempts.
''We're going to have to check the breakfast menu, see what they ate,'' Mihalich joked. ''I'm glad they did it.''
If Hofstra's five returnees and nine newcomers can protect the basketball, perhaps they can put up points with any other opponent they'll face this season.
''Our battle cry coming in was to take care of the ball, which we didn't do,'' Mihalich said. ''But when did it, we were able to score.''
Russ Smith scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half and Louisville made 12 3-pointers to set the tone for the Cardinals, won the first of four games in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff.
The senior guard and preseason All-America from Brooklyn shot 12 of 22 from the field including 5 of 12 from beyond the arc. Wayne Blackshear made three straight 3s for nine points to help Louisville break the game open with a 26-2 second-half run. Luke Hancock returned from an Achilles injury to hit a couple from long range as well as the Cardinals finished 12 of 31 from deep.
Louisville shot 35 of 68 overall (51.5 percent).
Chris Jones added 20 points with seven assists for Louisville, Montrezl Harrell had 19.
The Cardinals forced 22 turnovers leading to 32 points and dominated the paint 44-16.
Louisville survived some nervous moments early in the second half as Jamall Robinson made three from beyond the arc, Nesmith added seven points, including a 3, and Jordan Allen scored on a putback during an 18-8 run that brought Hofstra within 54-49 with 15:35 left in the game.
Just as quickly, Louisville turned it into an 80-51 lead over the next 7-plus minutes with help from Blackshear, who got in on the act from outside after missing both 3-pointers in the first half. Smith added seven during the run.