Taking the court for the first time in 263 days, the U of L men’s basketball team rolled to a 79-44 win over Evansville Wednesday in the Wade Houston Tipoff classic and season-opener for both teams.
The victory marked Louisville’s 17th straight season-opening victory, and also improved the Cards’ record in November home games at the KFC Yum Center to 43-0.
Leading the charge for U of L was much-discussed newcomer Carlik Jones, who certainly lived up to the preseason hype in his Cardinal debut. The grad transfer from Radford looked like the best player on the floor from the opening tip until the moment he left the floor for good, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, all team-highs.
Jones was aided by sophomore Samuell Williamson, who was something of a surprise starter after being listed as a reserve in Monday’s game notes. Despite just recently returning to practice after being sidelined with a an aggravated patella tendon, Williamson scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor. He tossed in six rebounds and five assists for good measure.
True freshman big man JJ Traynor delivered a stellar performance in his first collegiate action. The Bardstown High School product came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-5 from the field, with three of those makes coming on dunks. Sophomore Quinn Slazinksi also hit double figures from the bench, finishing with 10 points.
On the other side, Evansville was never able to get into anything resembling a rhythm on offense, and finished the game shooting 29.8 percent (14-for-47) from the field.
I didn’t catch any of Prairie View A&M earlier (I refuse to watch Jeff Greer broadcasts), but I saw that they kept things close with a fairly well thought of Little Rock team. With that being the case, I think it’s fairly reasonable to say that this Evansville squad will be the worst team Louisville is going to face this season. The Aces are in a complete rebuild, which was on full display Wednesday afternoon/evening.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be encouraged by the way Louisville played in its season-opener (we should!), it’s just to say that a fairly significant step up in competition is coming in two days.
I’ll have some extended thoughts later, but for now, here’s your first box score of the season: