Men's Basketball

Louisville finds its way in second half, rallies to defeat NKU in NIT opener

Louisville interim head coach David Padgett, right, talked with Deng Adel during a game against Grand Canyon earlier this season. Adel scored 20 points in Tuesday night’s NIT win against Northern Kentucky.
Louisville interim head coach David Padgett, right, talked with Deng Adel during a game against Grand Canyon earlier this season. Adel scored 20 points in Tuesday night’s NIT win against Northern Kentucky. AP

Louisville overcame a sluggish first half to defeat Northern Kentucky 66-58 in the first round of the NIT in the KFC Yum Center on Tuesday night.

The Norse, who were up 30-23 at the break, held the Cardinals to 25.0 percent from the field and Deng Adel was limited to four points while missing five of six shots.

The second half was a different story.

The Cardinals (21-13) managed to pull ahead by the end of the third quarter, 45-44. (Yes, the NIT format includes quarters.) And Louisville scored the first nine points of the fourth to take control of the game.

Adel, who scored the first nine points of the third quarter and 13 total in that frame, finished with 20 points and four rebounds.

Ryan McMahon added 10 points, and former Trinity star Ray Spalding filled up the box score with seven points, 13 rebounds, four blocks, three steals and two assists.

The Cardinals also got nine points and three assists from Quentin Snider (Ballard) and six points and six rebounds from Dwayne Sutton (Manual).

Drew McDonald led NKU (22-10) with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Lavone Holland II, who starred in high school at Ballard, had 15 points, five rebounds and two assists in the final game of his college career.

Louisville will Middle Tennessee, a 91-64 winner against Vermont on Tuesday night, in the next round.

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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