The cliche train said that the 5th ranked University of Louisville (10-1) vs. Florida International (3-5) game was Pitino vs. Pitino or the master vs. the student. In truth, it was a nationally ranked basketball program taking on a team starting almost from scratch. When coach Rick Pitino was asked what it felt like to lead a team against his son Richard Pitino, he said he didn’t think about it because he was concentrating on making his team better. That’s classic Pitino. And the Cards came out on top 77-55 at the KFC Yum! Center.
The game served as the 11th Annual Billy Minardi Classic which began in 2002 as a tournament in honor of Rick Pitino’s brother-in-law Billy Minardi who died in the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. It’s been a single game classic since 2009.
The Cards marked another significant milestone in that, as of this game, over 1 million fans have been through the doors in the three years that KFC Yum! Center has been open and it only took 46 games to reach that achievement.
Although the elder Pitino thinks the Cardinal defense needs shoring up, his team used just that to keep FIU at bay, turning them over 14 times, stealing the ball 10 times and only allowing 6 assists.
On the offensive end, both Chane Behanan and Peyton Siva scored double-doubles. Behanan finished with 14 points and 11 boards. Siva tossed in 15 point and dished 12 assists on his way to Player of the Game honors.
Where the Cards could really shore up is the center position. Zach Price only scored two points but committed 4 fouls. Stephen Van Treese continues to play hurt and didn’t score, or even take a shot for that matter. Adding to the front line frustration, Luke Hancock disappeared from the score sheet again, only hitting 1 three point goal. Gorgui Dieng can’t back back to health fast enough for the Card Nation.
Wayne Blackshear, however, led all scorers with 18 points on 4 of 8 three point shooting while also getting it done around the rim, snagging 8 rebounds. Montrezl Harrell provided a spark off the bench to throw down 7 points, most with authority.
Next up for the Cardinals is an away game against Western Kentucky at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Hilltoppers are off to their best start in 5 years and will prove to be a tough test before Louisville returns home to face the Kentucky Wildcats on December 29th.
Photos: Louisville.com/Tim Girton
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