LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Montrezl Harrell had 15 points and 13 rebounds and No. 6 Louisville beat Cleveland State 45-33 on Wednesday night for coach Rick Pitino’s 700th college victory.
One of five active Hall of Fame coaches and among four in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Pitino is 700-245 overall at Hawaii, Boston University, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville. He is 346-117 in 14 seasons with the Cardinals.
Chris Jones added 11 points, and freshman Chinanu Onuaku blocked seven shots for the Cardinals (5-0), who needed a lot of defense to put away the determined Vikings two nights after beating Savannah State by 61 points.
Cold shooting and missed free throws by Louisville allowed Cleveland State (2-3) to stay close throughout and trail just 33-29 with 12 minutes remaining.
But the Vikings made just two of their final 14 shots after that, going scoreless for the final 6:01. The Cardinals pulled away despite their lowest scoring output this season.
Despite a game-high 24 points by guard Trey Lewis, Cleveland State shot just 25 percent from the field.
Louisville shot slightly better (32 percent), a statistic held down by 3-of-20 shooting from behind the arc. The Cardinals were only 12 of 26 from the free throw line as well, but they outrebounded the Vikings 46-37 and got baskets at crucial times.
Especially the final two, as Jones made a 3-pointer with 5:29 left before Harrell’s layup nearly two minutes later. Terry Rozier added a 3-pointer as well en route to nine points.
Two days after scoring the game’s first 29 points in routing Savannah State, Louisville faced the same Vikings squad edged in overtime by the outmanned Tigers in their previous outing. Cleveland State returned from that loss to make things difficult for Louisville in the first half.
Despite 26 percent shooting, the Vikings trailed just 26-22 at the break thanks largely to Trey Lewis’ 18 points including all four of his team’s 3-pointers. Perimeter shooting was necessary for Cleveland State considering the inside wasn’t an option against Harrell and Onuaku.
Louisville shot 35 percent, only because of inside scoring that comprised nearly half of its points. The Cardinals mostly misfired from everywhere else and particularly from the free throw line in missing nine of 14 attempts.
Louisville blocked a third of Cleveland State’s first 24 attempts, highlighted by one first-half sequence that illustrated the Vikings’ inside futility against the Cardinals. Harrell blocked Aaron Scales’ layup attempt back into the 6-foot-9 center’s hands, and Onuaku followed with another quick rejection of the follow shot. With seven minutes remaining the Vikings had as many shots blocked (11) as they had baskets.
Cleveland State: Lewis is a preseason All-Horizon League first team selection. … The Vikings fell to 6-39 against ranked schools.
Louisville: Center Mangok Mathiang did not play after spraining his ankle in practice Tuesday, though he dressed and warmed up with the team. … Pitino’s 500th and 600th career wins also came in November.
Cleveland State: Visits Marshall on Friday night.
Louisville: Hosts Ohio State on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
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