Lee scores 18 as No. 19 Louisville tops Kennesaw State 94-57
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Another strong shooting performance and an overmatched opponent gave No. 19 Louisville the opportunity to try out a new defense.
Damion Lee scored 18 points and the Cardinals coasted past Kennesaw State 94-57 on Wednesday night.
The Cardinals (8-1) shot 59 percent (40 of 68). Their 40 field goals were their most since Dec. 22, 2010, against Western Kentucky.
Louisville has shot over 50 percent in eight of its nine games, matching the team’s total for all of last season.
“It is easy to score right now because we are much bigger than some of these teams, but the good thing is we started throwing the ball inside,” coach Rick Pitino said. “Our post players are getting a lot of touches and that is what we want.”
Hitting shots masked mixed results from the zone defense the Cardinals tried most of the night.
“You could see we are not where we were last year with it,” said Pitino, who has six newcomers in his regular rotation. “It is good experience in that regard.”
Chinanu Onuaka was 8 of 10 from the floor, scoring 16 points. Donovan Mitchell had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinals.
Yonel Brown led Kennesaw State (3-9) with 19 points and Kendrick Ray added 13. The Owls shot 39 percent.
Louisville made 7 of 15 3s in the first half, matching the number of Kennesaw State field goals, and led 41-19 at the break without shooting a free throw.
Kennesaw State started the game 1 of 15, missing 13 straight while scoreless for more than eight minutes, as Louisville jetted out to a 17-3 lead.
The Owls traded baskets for the next few minutes before a 10-0 Louisville run made it 36-14 with 2:23 left before halftime.
The Cardinals shot 66 percent in the second half (23 of 35). A 14-2 run, highlighted by Mitchell’s steal and one-handed slam, stretched the lead to 70-35 with 9:03 to play. Mitchell’s even more impressive dunk off an alley-oop gave Louisville an 81-43 advantage with 6:06 remaining.
The Cardinals entered the game outscoring opponents by 30.6 points a game, best in the country. Louisville used a significant height advantage to outrebound Kennesaw State 47-22.
“You are going to shoot the ball that well when you continue to attack the basket as they do with their bigs,” coach Al Skinner said. “They score around the basket. They offensive rebound very well. They always keep two or three around the basket hitting the glass.”
Kennesaw State: The 6-foot-1 Ray had the night’s top play with his tomahawk dunk over a 6-10 Onuaku. ... Ray and Brown, a preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection, each played 40 minutes. Brown entered as the nation’s leader in minutes played, averaging 38:54 a game.
Louisville: Lee made four of Louisville’s 10 3-pointers. Trey Lewis added three more, scoring 13 points. ... Forward Anas Mahmoud sat out with a sprained ankle.
Pitino and Skinner are quite familiar with one another. The pair are former Big East coaching foes, but also played four years together at UMass. Both were freshmen during Hall of Famer Julius Erving’s senior season. Skinner left Boston College in 2010 and is the school’s all-time winningest coach. He spent the last two years as an assistant at Bryant University in Rhode Island.
“You never really like playing your friends,” Skinner said.
Kennesaw State visits Chattanooga on Friday.
Louisville hosts Western Kentucky on Saturday.