The Louisville men’s basketball team began its regular season on Tuesday night with a 72-60 win over Southern University at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cards improve to 1-0, winning their 18th straight season opener. Southern falls to 0-1.
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) November 10, 2021
Samuell Williamson led Louisville with 14 points and 14 rebounds on 6-12 shooting. Matt Cross added 15 points and 5 boards. Noah Locke led all Cardinal scorers with 16 points. Louisville shot 41.5 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from three-point range.
For Southern, Brion Whitley led all scorers with 17 points. Jayden Saddler and Tyrone Lyons joined him in double figures. Damien Sears secured 14 rebounds. The Jaguars shot just 30.9 percent from the field.
Louisville went up 9-3 within the first three minutes of the game, but Southern responded and took the lead at the 13:56 mark. The Jaguars held the lead for a total of 6:22 in the half. They led 25-20 with just over six minutes left before Louisville went on a 13-0 run in less than four minutes to go up 33-25. The Cards did not score in the final 2:42 of the first period and held a narrow 33-31 lead headed into the break.
Out of the half, Louisville failed to score for the first 3:05 and trailed by two before a pair of Noah Locke threes put the Cards up 40-36 at the under-16 timeout. They did not trail for the remainder of the game and led by double-digits for the final 9:38.
This one was a bit too close for comfort throughout the first 30 minutes of action before Louisville got things together offensively and pulled away from Southern. It was a game that saw multiple long runs as well as significant scoring droughts.
There were three clear standouts for Louisville in Matt Cross, Samuell Williamson, and Noah Locke. Cross continues to show that he is much more than advertised and should be considered a major contributor for this team. Williamson was involved all over the floor and put up the first of what could be numerous double-double’s this season. Sam has been visibly more active on offense and it appears that his strong end to last season could end up translating into a leap in 2022. Fans wanted Coach Mack to get shooters this offseason, and Noah Locke might be the best of the group. Locke went 3-8 from long range and it appears that he will have the green light from day one.
It would be a mistake to start worrying about the Louisville offense after just one game. Considering all of the noise heading into the season, though, it would be fair to say that Tuesday night’s performance was disappointing on that end. The roster turnover and deep rotation should be considered here. If I were to guess, I think it could take a few games before we start seeing consistent performances offensively. Only scoring 72 points and winning by 12 against a sub-300 team at home is not a great start, though. Against arguably the best team in the SoCon this weekend, Louisville will need to be much sharper if they want to avoid another second half scare.
Louisville is back at home on Friday night for a matchup with Furman at 7:00 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra.