LOUISVILLE, Ky. – IUPUI assistant coach David Padgett knew all the plays from his time under coach Rick Pitino as a player and an assistant. Louisville overwhelmed the Jaguars all the same.
Stephen Thomas led IUPUI with 14 points, and No. 5 Louisville beat IUPUI 90-60 Wednesday night for the Cardinals' 16th straight victory at home.
It was a homecoming for many of the Jaguars. Coach Todd Howard was a walk-on at Louisville and played for Denny Crum. His father, Terry, was part of Louisville's 1975 Final Four team and five of his players come from Kentucky.
"This was a great environment," Howard said. "Very humbled and very honored to come back home and play, just because I think the world of the program and the university."
Lyonell Gaines, who grew up in Louisville, said he looked forward to this game for a long time.
"It meant a lot to me, honestly. I remember coach last year around September, when he was recruiting me, he told Jordan Shanklin - a guy out of Bowling Green - that he was going to try and get a game with (Western Kentucky) and Louisville," Gaines said. "When I heard about the schedule, back in early July, it's something I've been looking forward to for a long time, me and my family."
Howard shook up his lineup by sitting his three seniors to start the game, including Alex Young, the Summit League preseason player of the year who came in averaging 18.7 points. Young's absence from the starting lineup ended an 80-game streak since his freshman year. He finished with nine points.
"I love those kids to death and we needed something to get them going. We've been very pleased with their effort in practice," Howard said. "Just the game setting, we just haven't gotten off to good starts. Then you start to press and it's almost like that hitting slump - it's tough to get out of."
Chris Smith matched his personal best with 19 points to go over 1,000 for his career and Gorgui Dieng hit all eight of his shots to set a career high with 18 points to go along with 12 rebounds as the Cardinals started 8-0 for the second straight season.
But Russ Smith hit two free throws, then made a layup off a pass from Dieng in transition and Rakeem Buckles scored his first points of his season on a three-point play during a 15-0 run that included a steal and slam by Chane Behanan that made it 65-45 with 10:39 left.
After the Jaguars ended the run, Chris Smith converted a four-point play after hitting a 3 and the Cardinals' biggest lead was the final margin. Smith was walk on at Louisville after playing two seasons at Manhattan, where he scored 596 points and made 41 starts. He now has 1,011 points in his career.
"(Padgett) knew all the calls and they were well prepared for it," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "It's tough starting out and losing. It's the best thing for any assistant coach to go to a school like an IUPUI."
IUPUI held an early 7-6 lead before struggling against Louisville's pressure. IUPUI committed 20 turnovers in the game and shot 26 percent in the second half. On one sequence, Russ Smith made a pair of steals, dunking on one and finding Chris Smith on a bounce pass for a layup to finish another that gave the Cardinals a 23-11 lead midway through the first.
But IUPUI hit four 3-pointers — two by Thomas and one each by Young and Sean Esposito to tie it and stayed close early into the second half.
It didn't last.
"We got a little fatigued. You're running into Big East, BCS-level size and depth," Howard said. "Twenty-seven minutes in it's a 5, 6-point game and you're feeling really good, but knowing in this environment and just with the type of personnel they have it could domino."