No. 9 Louisville beats Lamar 68-48
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Mike Marra let out a scream after falling to the ground in a mix of fear and sharp pain. Louisville’s latest injured player is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee Sunday.
Freshman Chane Behanan had 10 points and 13 rebounds for a second straight double-double to start his college career and the ninth-ranked Cardinals beat cold-shooting Lamar 68-48 at the Global Sports Invitational.
Marra needed to be carried off after he fell to the court with 12:17 left in the second half. He was diagnosed with a left knee sprain, but the school announced late Sunday night that an MRI showed he had torn the ACL in his left knee and would need reconstructive surgery. The junior guard is expected to miss nine to 12 months after scoring six points in each of Louisville’s first two games.
“You heard the screaming, that was the worst part,” Marra said. “It felt like literally my bone came out of the socket and then it popped right back in. It was pretty scary. Once the initial ‘scary’ got over, I calmed down a little bit. I was OK.”
Louisville (2-0) has struggled with injuries dating to last season.
While the Cardinals returned 11 lettermen, they have not practiced at full strength yet this season and are missing talented freshman Wayne Blackshear (right shoulder), forward Rakeem Buckles (right knee) and Stephan Van Treese (left knee). Marra had dealt with a bad back all preseason.
“We’ve had some tough luck this year,” said Marra, who had crutches by his locker.
Lamar (1-1) beat Arkansas State in coach Pat Knight’s debut on Friday, but started this game missing 17 of its first 18 shots and ended up shooting 23.1 percent for the game, struggling to get going against Louisville’s matchup defense in a battle of Cardinals.
“I’d rather get my butt beat by a very good team and get ready for the conference,” said Knight, who was fired by Texas Tech after three seasons. “I get phone calls, ‘You’re going to want those four wins back.’ The great thing about being fired, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t care about after you’ve been fired. I’m not trying to pad my record. I want to win and build this program up.”
Lamar trailed by as many as 17 before Marra’s injury, but mounted a rally.
“I thought when Mike went down, it kind of took a little something out of us,” said associate head coach Richard Pitino, son of coach Rick Pitino.
Mike James’ jumper in the paint cut Louisville’s lead to 52-44 with 5:37 left. But Peyton Siva hit two free throws and found Chris Smith in the corner on the next possession for a 3-pointer. Lamar never threatened the rest of the way.
“We picked it up. Chris hit a big three and Siva got to the line,” Behanan said. “We can’t take plays off. We’ve got to get involved in every play. I’ve got to rebound better and not watch. I was watching I could have had four or five more rebounds.”
Jared Swopshire scored 13 points, Siva 11 and Smith 10 for Louisville, while Devon Lamb finished with 10 points for Lamar.
“I feel that we definitely dodged a bullet. They’re a tough team to play, they’re a great team to play,” Siva said. “They’re returning five seniors and they all can play. I feel that we did a good job of contesting their shots. They missed some open ones in the first half. I feel like we know we have a lot to work on defense.”
Behanan had 14 points and 12 rebounds in Rick Pitino’s 600th win on Friday night over Tennessee-Martin, but Louisville will have plenty to work on in the aftermath of this one after committing 14 turnovers, shooting 3 of 11 from 3-point range and giving up 21 offensive rebounds.
Louisville, winners of 11 straight at the KFC Yum! Center, is in a stretch of playing 12 of its first 13 games at home with its only road game in the span on Saturday at Butler.
Lamar returned four starters from last year’s 13-17 team, but has lost 20 in a row against ranked opponents dating to a victory over then-No. 12 Louisiana Tech on Jan. 26, 1985. Louisville has won all four meetings with Lamar.
Lamar went 1 for 18 in the first 11 1/2 minutes against a Louisville defense that presented a variety of looks. In one sequence, Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng finished with a dunk, blocked a shot and grabbed a defensive rebound in a span of less than a minute as Louisville built a double-digit lead. Dieng finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
Despite the start, Lamar only trailed 19-12 after Brandon Davis hit a 3-pointer. Lamar didn’t get another basket until two dunks by Osas Ebomwonyi and a layup by Tre Lynch with 2:45 left in the first half as Louisville led 36-23 at the break.
But Lamar’s second half didn’t start much better with seven straight misses.
“Their defense takes you out of the rhythm,” Knight said. “We missed some open looks, but a lot of that is they get you out of their rhythm.”