No. 20 Louisville 78, Gardner-Webb 49
Louisville coach Rick Pitino gave his starting lineup a makeover
after the 20th-ranked Cardinals were pushed around by Drexel on
Pitino benched junior center Terrence Jennings and gave freshman
Gorgui Dieng the first start of his career. The coach’s order was
simple: get after the ball or get off the court.
The Cardinals responded with a 78-49 win over Gardner-Webb on
Saturday in a spirited bounce back performance that helped take
some of the sting out of the disappointing loss to Drexel earlier
in the week.
”More than anything else, we wanted to rebound and act like
junkyard dogs,” Pitino said. ”I wanted everybody to rebound the
That meant everybody, guards included.
Preston Knowles responded with a career-high 24 points and nine
rebounds while Dieng added eight points, 11 rebounds and seven
blocks as the Cardinals (9-1) used a 20-0 first-half run to put
away the overmatched Runnin’ Bulldogs early.
”We wanted to come in with the mentality to get every
rebound,” Knowles said. ”We played great together. If we stay
together, the sky’s the limit.”
Laron Buggs led Gardner-Webb (6-8) with 16 points, but the
Runnin’ Bulldogs couldn’t find the same magic they used three years
ago when they knocked off Kentucky.
Knowles and Dieng made sure of it, keying a dominant defensive
effort that limited Gardner-Webb to 31 percent shooting, blocked 14
shots and came up with seven steals.
”Gorgui tries to be a factor every time down the floor,”
Pitino said. ”Because of his length he can erase a lot of
Not that there were many to go around on Saturday.
Buoyed by the changes Pitino promised were coming after
Louisville was destroyed in the paint by the Dragons on Tuesday,
the Cardinals played with the kind of relentlessness it lacked
against Drexel, which outrebounded Louisville by 20 on its way to a
Pitino was so incensed by the loss he spent 36 hours stewing
over it, a good 12 hours beyond the window he typically gives
Looking for a spark he put Dieng in the lineup. The 6-foot-10
native of Senegal is struggling to pick up the nuances of the game,
particularly when it comes to knowing where to go on offense.
Yet Pitino didn’t put Dieng in the lineup because of his
offensive skills. Though skinny, Dieng has become adept at using
his massive wingspan to snatch rebounds. He came in averaging 4.0
boards in limited playing time and more than doubled that total in
the first half.
”I don’t think he knows a lot about what he’s doing,” Pitino
said of Dieng. ”He really listens. The most important thing is he
tries to rebound every shot.”
There were plenty of Gardner-Webb misses to go around. The
Runnin’ Bulldogs missed 12 straight shots during Louisville’s big
”Give those guys credit, I thought they played hard and played
together and crushed us on the glass,” Gardner-Webb coach Chris
Holtmann said. ”They were all over the glass. They beat us to
almost every 50-50 ball.”
The Cardinals outrebounded Gardner-Webb 45-26, outscored the
Runnin’ Bulldogs 30-14 in the paint and made Gardner-Webb work to
get off shots.
Dieng started the game-deciding burst with a layup off a nice
feed from Peyton Siva and Mike Marra – mired in a miserable
1-for-21 slump over the last three games – drove the baseline for
another lay-in and the Cardinals were off to the races.
Gardner-Webb went more than 8 minutes without making a field
goal, and by the time Keith Manley ended the drought with a lay-up
the Runnin’ Bulldogs trailed 29-11.
It was all the cushion Louisville would need, and the benching
appeared to get Jennings’ attention. He was active on both ends of
the court after getting pushed around in the lane by Drexel,
finishing with six points, four rebounds and two blocks in 15
The Cardinals played without sophomore forward Rakeem Buckles,
who watched from the bench after suffering a concussion against
Drexel. Freshman point guard Elisha Justice spent the second half
in the training after taking an elbow to the face.
Buckles is expected to play Wednesday when the Cardinals travel
to Western Kentucky.
The win will send Pitino to Miami in a good mood. He’s
negotiating with Puerto Rico basketball officials to coach the
national team in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Argentina
next summer. He plans to meet with players and officials to gauge
the enthusiasm level of the program.
Puerto Rico officials have scheduled a news conference on Monday
in Miami to introduce the new coach, who will be tasked with
getting the country into the 2012 Summer Olympics in London after
it failed to qualify for the 2008 Games in Beijing.