Six Louisville Cardinals players scored in double figures as the defending NCAA National Champions defeated the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns by the mark of 113-74. With the home victory, the No. 7 Cardinals improve to 8-1 on the season while the Ragin’ Cajuns fall to 6-3.
Other than having arguably the best school nickname in all of college sports, Louisiana-Lafayette didn’t do much well in this game, allowing Louisville to shoot 61.3 percent from the field. Montrezl Harrell had the best overall game for the Cardinals, recording a team-high 20 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Chris Jones chipped in with 19 points while Russ Smith added 16, Wayne Blackshear netted 15, Terry Rozier scored 11, and Luke Hancock put in 10.
Despite shooting a terrible 4-of-18 from three-point range, the Cardinals were able to win the game by attacking inside where they also dominated the rebounding margin at a 41-to-29 advantage.
Defensively, they forced 17 turnovers and had eight blocked shots.
While the Cardinals are ranked 35th in the country in points per game, there is one major concern: the lack of a true point guard. Peyton Siva graduating may have had a very negative effect on the team as Smith has been forced to play the facilitator role and leads the team in assists with 4.8 per game. His 2.3 turnovers also lead the team. After Smith, Jones is second on the team in assists with just 2.6 per game. Since Smith is the primary offensive option but also forced to move the ball around, it is a very confusing situation for him and his teammates.
In games like this against a much inferior opponent, the Cardinals don’t need that true point guard presence, but when they square off against legitimate teams like in their lone loss to North Carolina, the lack of ability to assist the ball will certainly be on display.
In their loss to the Tar Heels on November 24, the Cardinals had only eight assists as a team, two of which came from Smith. Add 14 turnovers to that, and it’s the perfect recipe for a loss which is what happened.
Next game, Louisville takes on Western Kentucky. The contest is on December 14 and will take place at 12:00 p.m. ET. Let’s see if Rick Pitino can find a true facilitator before they face No. 3 Kentucky on December 28.