No.4 Cardinals skate past Friars in Big East opener
Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Russ Smith netted 23 points and No. 4 Louisville downed Providence, 80-62, in the Big East opener for both teams.
Gorgui Dieng supplied 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for the Cardinals (13-1, 1-0 Big East), who were coming off a home win against Kentucky on Saturday.
"We're continuing to win with offense, protecting the ball and not turning it over and scoring the ball well," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. "Our defense is nowhere near where we want it to be. I think our guys realize that and they will continue to work on it."
Luke Hancock provided 11 points, eight boards and three steals in the triumph.
"I think our team just played the best team in the country. I've scouted every game that they have played this year and they have a lot of different answers, a lot of experience," Friars head coach Ed Cooley said of the Cardinals.
Kadeem Batts and Bryce Cotton tallied 17 and 16 points, respectively, for Providence (8-5, 0-1), which has dropped three consecutive games.
Batts' jumper pulled the Friars within 53-47 with 13:22 left in the game, but Louisville countered with an 18-2 run to put the contest away. Hancock made a pair of triples, while Montrezl Harrell closed the surge with back-to-back buckets for a 71-49 advantage with 7:06 remaining.
It was a sluggish start for the hosts.
Providence stormed out of the gate and jumped out to a 13-3 lead after Vincent council nailed a 3-pointer a little less than four minutes in.
But the Cardinals woke up and outscored the Friars, 34-18, over the rest of the half. Chane Behanan and Dieng had eight points apiece during the stretch as Louisville headed into the break with a 37-31 lead.
The Cardinals shot 52.6 percent (30-of-57) from the floor and 38.9 percent (7- of-18) from beyond the arc ... Providence turned the ball over 16 times, while Louisville committed just eight giveaways.
01/03 02:14:53 ET