PHILADELPHIA — By the time the second half between Louisville and Temple started, the seats at the Liacouras Center were most empty and the end result was all but a formality.
Temple had no answer for No. 13 Louisville on Friday night on the offensive or defensive ends of the floor. The Cardinals rushed out to a 27-point halftime lead and coasted to an 82-58 victory behind sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell’s career night.
“Montrezl played one of his best games of the season,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “I think the one good thing about our basketball team, they don’t pay attention to records, they just say we’re going to play hard regardless of who the opponent is.”
Harrell finished with a career-high 22 points, tearing through the Temple frontcourt with a bevy of post moves and high-flying dunks in transition. The 6-foot-8 forward posted his fifth double-double of the season by grabbing 10 rebounds and tied his career high with four blocked shots.
“(Harrell) competes on every possession. He had a couple of easy jump-hook shots in the lane,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He’s shooting I think 60 percent, he’s got a great percentage because he’s so tough down inside. He’s hard for us to guard, there’s no question about it.”
Louisville’s scoring was not limited to Harrell. Senior guard Russ Smith had 15 points, junior forward Will Blackshear scored 13 and senior forward Luke Hancock finished with 11 to join Harrell in double figures.
“I thought everybody played well.” Pitino said. “(Blackshear) when he goes to the four-spot drives much more. He doesn’t drive as much at the three. All the guys did a lot of good things.”
Cardinals guard Chris Jones may have been overshadowed by his teammates in the scoring department but still left his mark on the game. The 5-foot-10 junior scored nine points and had game-highs in both assists with five and steals with three.
Temple (6-17, 1-10 AAC), which came into the game as the only Division I team with four players averaging 14 or more points per game, saw just two, junior guard Will Cummings and junior forward Anthony Lee, reach double figures.
Cummings finished with 16 points and Lee, who limped off the court with 10:26 left in the second half favoring a kee, had 14.
Lee said the injury is nothing serious.
“It’s sore right now. It buckled,” he said. “I wanted to come back in, but there was no need to because of the lead, so the coaches just sat me out for the rest of the game.”
The Owls shot just 37.3 percent from the field and the Cardinals (20-4, 9-2) shot 51.6 percent.
“I think they’re obviously a highly-ranked team for a reason. They’re really talented, they do some really good things on both ends of the court,” Dunphy said. “They’re extremely tough defensively. What they do is hurry you up. We turned it in the frontcourt too many times, especially in the first half.”
Louisville led 52-25 at halftime. The Cardinals were buoyed by a strong defensive performance and an offense that ran through Harrell and Hancock.
The Owls were held to 34.5 percent shooting from the floor, including 25 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Louisville, on the other hand, shot 62.5 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range.
Louisville’s defense made Temple uncomfortable for the entire half, forcing the Owls into many bad shots. Temple committed eight first-half turnovers and Louisville had just two.
The Cardinals opened the game on a 21-9 run in the first nine minutes. Harrell scored 10 of his 15 first-half points in the first 8:06 of the game. He had two huge dunks, one come on an alley-oop from guard Chris Jones and the other coming off a Temple turnover.
“Some of the guards or whoever had the ball, they got into the lane, (and) you have to help and recover,” Lee said. “(Harrell) was able to get a lot of dump-off and dunks just from the passing that was going on.”
NOTES: Temple has now lost 12 of their last 13 games and won only once since the new year. … Temple and Louisville have short turnarounds. The Owls host SMU on Sunday and the Cardinals travel
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