BOWLING GREEN — When emotions boiled over Saturday, Terry Rozier kept his cool.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore scored 32 points as No. 4 Louisville outlasted Western Kentucky 76-67 before a packed crowd of 7,598 inside E.A. Diddle Arena.
Louisville (10-0) lost star big man Montrezl Harrell with 38 seconds left in the first half, ejected after taking a swing at a Hilltopper. Harrell finished his day with 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and a block.
"I just tried to stay patient and find my shots," said Rozier, who scored all but six of his points in the second half. "The guys did a good job of getting me the ball. We knew it was going to be tough playing without 'Trezl. It was big losing him, so we all had to step up."
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Rozier shot 9-for-16 from the floor, including 3-for-6 from three-point range, and sank 11 of 13 free throws. He added five rebounds and three steals.
Chris Jones added 10 points. Anas Mahmoud, a 7-foot freshman from Egypt, took most of Harrell's playing time, contributing six points, five rebounds and three blocks.
"I was just trying to play as hard as I can," Mahmoud said. "It's a big game, and on the road nobody knows what can happen."
T.J. Price led the Hilltoppers (5-5) with 24 points — his fourth straight 20-point effort — and seven rebounds. D.J. Clayton hit all four of his three-point shots and finished with 14 points.
Free throws were huge as U of L made 26 of 30 to Western's 15 of 25. And, even with Harrell gone in the second half, U of L had a 37-35 edge in rebounds.
"I thought we competed," Hilltoppers Coach Ray Harper said. "Physically, we competed hard. We didn't always play as smart as I would like. You can't fault the effort."
"It was a collective effort," said U of L assistant coach Kenny Johnson, who took over post-game interview chores because head coach Rick Pitino was off to catch a recruiting-trip flight. "Obviously when you look at the stat line you see Terry Rozier finished with 32 points. But Anas Mahmoud came in and played 23 big minutes with six points, five rebounds, three blocks; Anton Gill had a big shot for us down the stretch. The communication level picked up, and that's what you're most proud of as a coach."
U of L's sixth straight win over Western tied the all-time series at 39 wins each.
The Cardinals led 28-22 when things turned ugly late in the first half. Scrapping for a loose ball, Harrell wound up taking a swing at Western guard Avery Patterson. Harrell was assessed a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. Western's Clayton was assessed a flagrant 1 and remained in the game.
"It was a heated basketball game, and a lot of chippiness going on early," Johnson said. "I saw Montrezl get tripped and fall to the ground. I think he was trying to get up.
"He felt kind of trapped, confined trying to stand up, and extending his arms to try to get his balance. I guess whatever happened got called a flagrant two foul and he had to sit out the rest of the game."
Then, Pitino and Harper exchanged words, both drawing technical fouls.
Louisville took a 29-24 lead at intermission. Key to building a halftime cushion was an 11-0 spurt that turned a 17-15 lead into a 28-15 gap.
Harrell had five of the 11, Rozier added four and Jones scored two.
Harrell watched the rest of the game in the locker room, then emerged contrite.
"Spur of the moment. A team situation, a dog pile and everything just took a turn for the worse, honestly," said Harrell, who has scored in double digits 22 games in a row. "I overreacted in the heat of that moment and situation .... and I just want to apologize to my teammates; I want to apologize to the University of Louisville and apologize to my coaching staff. I know I shouldn't have reacted in that way, and I'm truly sorry and apologize for the way I reacted, and have just got to move forward."
Western pulled to within two points of Louisville at 33-31 early in the second half, but never could pull even.
A 7-0 run by U of L — a Jones three-pointer and two free throws each by Rozier and Gill — pushed the lead to 67-55 with 3:23 left.
Western came back with a 9-2 spurt to pull to within 69-64 with just under a minute and a half left.
That's as close as the Toppers would come, though. Mahmoud threw down a dunk at 1:11 and Rozier cashed in five of six free throws in the final 48 seconds.
"We gave ourselves a chance right there with about four minutes to go, down five with the basketball," Harper said. "Give them credit, they stepped up, 26 of 30 from the free-throw line. That's the difference in the basketball game."