Isiah Thomas probably didn’t enjoy his first trip into the KFC Yum! Center as his Florida International squad got mauled by the Cards 92-55. UofL didn’t get much out of this game because FIU looked like a poor high school team for most of the game, particularly in the first half.
Quite frankly, the only real positive I took from this game was the fact the Cards, now 5-0, did what they should have against a team like FIU: crush them. Louisville jumped out to a 14-2 lead to start things and the game was all but over. Other than that, there was really nothing to take seriously from this game.
I could give a bunch of stats to fill space, such as the Cards shot 50% from the field and outrebounded the Panthers 44-36 on the glass, but those are irrelevant. FIU, who is legitimately improved from last season, was in complete disarray from the start and as I said earlier, the Cards appropriately dominated them.
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From an individual perspective, it was good to see Preston Knowles have a solid game. He still shot the ball a bit too much for my liking, but overall, he was good. Preston scored 18 points on 6-13 shooting and also grabbed 6 rebounds. Rick Pitino has been asking, to the point of begging, Knowles to do other things rather than look to score and tonight Preston did. On top of his 18 and 6, PK dished out 3 assists and recorded 3 steals.
Preston’s value is not in his scoring, but in his ability to affect the game on the defensive end. When Preston focuses on defense and rebounding, his offense shows up. When he does the opposite, he may score some points, but he takes a lot of shots and neglects his defense, which his strong suit. Hopefully, this is a game to get him going consistently.
Also, Gorgui Dieng continued to develop. The Gorgui Monster tallied 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 7 blocks. Gorgui’s production is going to be largely based on match-ups, but against FIU, he was very good. He showed some polished moves in the post, including another sweet turnaround jumper from the elbow, and had his first breakout game from a blocked shots perspective.
Again, Gorgui will be up and down this year, but if he can provide a consistent presence around the rim, he will definitely give opposing teams something to think about.
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The Cards now turn their attention to South Alabama this Saturday. The Jaguars lost to Alabama 72-50 tonight, but they should be a much stronger opponent than FIU, specifically on the defensive end as South Alabama is known to switch their defenses during the game. Carl H. will be here in a few days with a preview.