Lamar misfires in 68-48 loss to No. 9 Louisville
Lamar's defense wasn't enough to make up for a second straight game of shooting woes.
The Lamar Cardinals overcame their offensive struggles to post a season-opening win against Arkansas State, but an even worse shooting display proved costly in a 68-48 loss to the No. 9 Louisville Cardinals on Sunday.
Lamar's 23.1 percent shooting (15 of 65) against Louisville was the fourth lowest in school history, but despite their shortcomings from the field, Lamar (1-1) trailed by only eight with less than six minutes to play.
''The defensive effort was great, but you've still got to hit shots,'' coach Pat Knight said. ''If we could have done that it would change, even more, the tempo of the game.''
Mike James' jumper in the paint cut Louisville's lead to 52-44 with 5:37 left. But Peyton Siva hit two free throws and found Chris Smith in the corner on the next possession for a 3-pointer. Lamar never threatened the rest of the way.
Freshman Chane Behanan had 10 points and 13 rebounds for Louisville (2-0) in their 11th straight victory at the KFC Yum! Center. Lamar is 0-4 all-time against Louisville.
Senior guard Anthony Miles, who became the 19th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark Sunday, said his team didn't take advantage of the chance to knock off a top-10 opponent.
''Louisville played real hard, played great defense, but at the same time we just didn't capitalize on our opportunities,'' James said.
Lamar will have other tough opponents later in the season. They play No. 2 Kentucky on Dec. 20 and follow with No. 3 Ohio State eight days later.
Knight said the rugged schedule will prepare his team for a chance to win the Southland Conference and the exposure will prove valuable for his team.
''If you want to build a program - like Gonzaga, Butler has done, Belmont - you've got to play a tough schedule,'' Knight said. ''You've got to get your RPI up, get respected. This is great for us. We hung tough with Louisville, it's Big East Network, TV. We'll be on ESPN tonight, highlights. We've got to get the Lamar name out there.''
Lamar returned four starters from last year's 13-17 team, but has lost 20 in a row against ranked opponents dating to a victory over then-No. 12 Louisiana Tech on Jan. 26, 1985.
Lamar went 1 for 18 in the first 11 1/2 minutes against a Louisville defense that presented a variety of looks. In one sequence, Louisville's Gorgui Dieng finished with a dunk, blocked a shot and grabbed a defensive rebound in a span of less than a minute as Louisville built a double-digit lead. Dieng finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
Despite the start, Lamar only trailed 19-12 after Brandon Davis hit a 3-pointer. Lamar didn't get another basket until two dunks by Osas Ebomwonyi and a layup by Tre Lynch with 2:45 left in the first half as Louisville led 36-23 at the break.
But Lamar's second half didn't start much better with seven straight misses.
''"I'd rather get my butt beat by a very good team and get ready for the conference,'' said Knight, who was fired after three seasons from Texas Tech. ''The great thing about being fired, there's a lot of stuff you don't care about after you've been fired. I'm not trying to pad my record. I want to win and build this program up.''