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    The Louisville Basketball Cardinals Punch Ohio State in the Buckeye 64-55
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    If the Global Sports Showcase was the less-than-well heated frying pan, the 5th ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (6-0) jumped into the challenge fire Tuesday night as they met the number 14 Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1) as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cards escaped with a 64-55.

    Though not a direct tournament, Louisville won the showcase by sweeping the round robin event in which they played all games at home. This time around, no one expected either team to coast the way they had been earlier in the season.

    For Coach Rick Pitino, he wanted to see improvement in shot selection and assist-to-turnover ratio, which hasn’t been good all season. Shooting percentage also needed to improve as the Cards work their way toward their ACC schedule.

    One of his wishes came true. Senior forward Wayne Blackshear played lights out basketball including his time beyond the three point arc. He was the offensive bright spot and spark when the team needed it. He hit for 22 points including 4 triples.

    When center Chinanu Onuaku went out in the first half with foul trouble, Anas Mahmoud, the seven foot Egyptian freshman put in quality minutes. He wasn’t an offensive threat, but his 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots kept the Cards in the game. His 24 minutes were the most he’s played all season. And it forced changes in the Buckeyes strategy. Pitino also planned to play Matz Stockman but kept him out due to a neck injury.

    Meanwhile Ohio State had all kinds of trouble on offense due, in part, to the smothering and aggressive defense that wouldn’t let them get off an uncontested shot. When they got into the paint, it got tougher. The Buckeyes just looked soft.

    They toughened up in the second half after coach Thad Matta made his adjustments. Louisville native D’Angelo Russell lived up to his hype with 17 points. He only scored 5 in the first half but became the lynch pin for the Ohio State comeback.

    With Louisville leading by a comfortable 35-18 margin at halftime, Russell and Marc Loving took control of the Buckeyes attack and brought them to within 3.

    Neither team was especially good in terms of shooting percentages. The Cards shot 35.2% for the game. Ohio State was equally abysmal, shooting 30.4%. Pitino praised the first half defense of the Cards where they held the Buckeyes to 23% from the field in the first half. He also has confidence that the offense will catch up during the season.

    Montrezl Harrell came out of the game with a double-double: 13 points with 10 rebounds. Terry Rozier had a quiet 11 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists and a dislocated pinky. Chris Jones was solid on the point and scored 10 points, including 3 three pointers.

    Next for the Cards is the final home game of the 6 game stand against Florida International University on Friday at 7pm.

    Photos by: Tim Girton/Louisville.com

    Tim Girton's picture

    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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