LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Montrezl Harrell had 17 points and eight rebounds, and No. 6 Louisville manhandled Missouri State 90-60 on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals (10-1) took control early and never let up against the Bears (8-2). They combined dominant rebounding and offensive accuracy during a 15-0 first-half run for a 19-4 lead in the first meeting between the schools since 2006.
Harrell was among four Cardinals with at least eight rebounds each, a combination that alone outdid MSU in Louisville’s 51-30 domination of the boards. They also outscored the Bears 46-28 inside and held them to 38 percent shooting to close a 5-0 home stand.
Senior guard Russ Smith added 11 points and eight assists, while freshman Terry Rozier had 11 points and eight rebounds. Forwards Stephan Van Treese and Mangok Mathiang combined for 17 rebounds for Louisville, which shot 34 of 66 from the field (52 percent).
Jarmar Gulley’s 14 points led the Bears, whose two-game winning streak was thoroughly halted by a Cardinals squad that controlled every facet of the game.
MSU tied Louisville 4-4 before the Cardinals seized the pace with the big run. The Bears never got closer than 18 after that, spoiling Paul Lusk’s 100th game as their coach.
Missouri State brought some impressive credentials into its second meeting against Louisville and first since losing to the Cardinals in the 2006 NIT. The Bears were runners-up to Virginia in the Corpus Christi Challenge, a four-game run that included a win over previously unbeaten Texas A&M.
They also boasted an impressive scoring combination in Gulley and Marcus Marshall, who had combined for nearly 27 points per game coming in and were developing into a strong scoring duo in just four games together. Against the Cardinals, though, they combined for only 22 points as Marshall finished with eight.
MSU’s bench was outscored 32-26, 10 points below their average.
Louisville welcomed back point guard Chris Jones from a one-game absence because of a sprained right wrist. Rozier started but the 5-foot-10 junior came in five minutes later with the wrist bandaged and finished with nine points in 19 minutes.
The Cardinals were in the midst of their key run when Jones entered. The sequence was highlighted by Chane Behanan’s thunderous one-handed dunk off of Van Treese’s long lead pass and Rozier’s steal of the inbounds pass and layup seconds later. Louisville continued to overwhelm MSU, which was outrebounded 20-5 through 13 minutes and 27-10 overall in the first half.
That statistic offered the best indicator of Louisville’s defensive effort, which disrupted the Bears’ dribbling, passing and shot selection. The Cardinals nearly matched their per-game blocks average (4.6) by the break alone, finishing with seven and answering everything MSU attempted.
Louisville’s offense was just as effective as the Cardinals dissected MSU’s zone and muscled their way for baskets. Louisville also had 14 assists.