The Louisville Cardinals started their 2020-2021 men’s basketball season with a comfortable 79-44 win over Evansville on the first day of the Wade Houston Tipoff Classic at the KFC Yum! Center.
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) November 25, 2020
Carlik Jones looked worthy of the hype, leading the Cards with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in his debut. Samuell Williamson was not far behind with 17 points, 6 boards and 5 assists. Freshman JJ Traynor scored 11 points with 5 rebounds in his debut; Quinn Slazinski was also in double figures with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
Evan Kuhlman and Shamar Givance each led Evansville with 10 points. The Purple Aces totaled only 18 rebounds and 6 assists as a team.
Louisville was expected to win big here and took care of business from the jump. Evansville has not won a game in over 11 calendar months, but the Cards needed this game to get their new guys out on the court and play some minutes. With Josh Nickelberry missing the game to injury in addition to Malik Williams and Charles Minlend, Coach Mack used a fairly strict 7 man rotation for most of the game.
David Johnson exited early in the first half with foul trouble and Louisville struggled to score without him. Eventually Carlik Jones took over and really settled things down for the Cards’ offense. They held a 3616 lead at half and did not look back from there.
The biggest takeaway from this game has to be the newcomers. You expected big things from Carlik Jones, but both Dre Davis and JJ Traynor looked good in their college debuts. Davis still looks a bit raw offensively, but he’s got the size to defend on the perimeter and you can tell why the coaching staff has raved about him this preseason. Traynor looked like he belonged right away and you saw glimpses of his high ceiling. Unlike last year, it is clear that freshman will need to contribute. Jae’lyn Withers and Quinn Slazinski both looked promising on both ends as well. It was only Evansville, but you feel a lot more comfortable about replacing the production of Malik Williams after Wednesday.
David Johnson fouled early and never got the chance to play extended minutes. Johnson only scored four points, but snagged 7 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. Louisville looked much different without him playing in the first half. There is no need to worry about DJ, but its clear that this team needs him on the floor. Samuell Williamson seemed much more engaged offensively, which is exactly what you want to see from him this season.
It is hard to take much from these early season games, but Louisville looked good and hopefully relieved some of its skeptics a bit. It’s evident that their size is going to be a major asset defensively, and should end up helping things progress on the other end. All things considered, that was a great start to a season that will be anything but normal.
Louisville is back at it Friday afternoon with a 4:00 p.m. matchup against Seton Hall on ESPN2.
Below you can hear what the players and coaches had to say about tonight’s season opening victory: