LOUISVILLE — Memo to Louisville basketball foes:
Not a good idea to try and run with the Cardinals.
Chattanooga made that mistake Monday night.
U of L blasted the Mocs 106-65 before a KFC Yum Center crowd of 21,191.
"Our guys are a fun group to coach. They're a fun group each day because they want to learn, want to get better and they play with extraordinary effort," Coach Rick Pitino said. "And this was exciting for them to play against a team that wanted to run with them."
The game was U of L's second in the Global Sports Shootout. Overall, the Cards are 3-0, all at home.
With a vintage-Pitino up-and-down pace, triggered by pressure defense, U of L led 51-37 at halftime.
The Cards turned up the heat to start the second half and blew the game open.
"We just came out and played with great intensity," said Preston Knowles, the Clark County graduate.
Knowles led seven Cards who scored in double figures, nailing three three-pointers en route to a 14-point night.
Terrence Jennings, Peyton Siva and Kyle Kuric all scored 13. Rakeem Buckles, Mike Marra and Chris Smith scored 11 each.
Chattanooga (2-3) got 24 points from Omar Wattad, who sank five three-pointers. DeAntre Jefferson added 10 points and nine rebounds.
U of L won the turnover battle 25-12, coming up with 19 steals. That led to runouts, open-look threes and a slew of assists — 29. The Cards made 15 of 37 threes and, for good measure, went 17-for-19 from the free-throw line.
"We just came out and played really hard," said Elisha Justice, the freshman out of Shelby Valley. "Our press looks a lot better tonight than it did (Saturday) night against Jackson State, and we did a lot better job of executing."
Justice registered two points and a team-best six assists. Kuric had four steals. Jennings blocked three shots for a third game in a row.
"They guarded and made life pretty uncomfortable for us offensively," Mocs Coach John Shulman said. "We can't simulate that kind of pressure in practice. ... Defensively, they were phenomenal."
U of L's only stumble came early. It took less than two minutes for the Cards to turn the ball over three times, and Chattanooga scored the first four points of the game.
U of L knew what to do.
"Even though our offense is kind of stagnant at times, we crank it up on defense and try to get out on the break," Knowles said.
Second half, Wattad sank his final three-pointer to bring Chattanooga within 58-42.
Pitino called timeout.
The Cards scored the next 14 points, keeping the Mocs off the board for 5:11.
Siva split the defense on a drive to the hoop. Knowles triggered a break and found Buckles, who fed Jennings for a dunk. Kuric followed with another dunk off of his own steal. Justice was next with a steal and layup. Buckles and Kuric drained back-to-back threes.
"Don't overrate us," Pitino said. "It was two teams that wanted to play a certain style. And we were at home and we won the style. So I wouldn't get too carried away with that."