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Louisville cruises to 72-58 win over Mississippi State in Bahamas opener

The Cardinals saved easily their most complete performance of the season for Thanksgiving night.

Southern v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In what was easily its most impressive performance of the young season, the Louisville men’s basketball team jumped on Mississippi State early and never let up, rolling to a 72-58 triumph in the semifinals of the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship.

Samuell Williamson was the early star for the Cards. The junior forward came off the bench and knocked down six of his first seven shots, helping U of L build a double-digit lead that was never put in danger. Williamson finished with a team-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds.

Dre Davis (12) and Jae’Lyn Withers (11) joined Williamson as double figure scorers, while Malik Williams (8 points, 10 rebounds) came up one basket shy of a double-double.

While the offense was solid, it was the defensive end where Louisville asserted its dominance all evening long.

The Cardinals held a Mississippi State team that had entered the evening as the third best three-point shooting team in the country to just 1-of-15 from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs shot just 32.2 percent from the field overall for the game.

U of L also manned up on the glass, where it owned a 47-38 advantage. Perhaps most importantly, the Cards limited an MSU squad that had been rebounding 37.7 percent of its missed to only 10 second chance opportunities.

I really don’t even know what to say here. Pretty much everything that had been so disappointing over the season’s first two weeks was markedly better on Thursday night.

The effort level, the focus, the toughness on the boards, the enthusiasm from the bench, the enthusiasm on the floor; this was the first night this season where everyone with “Louisville” across their chest appeared to be on the same page. This was the first night this season where everyone looked like this mattered significantly to them.

The result speaks for itself.

Now, the Cards will have an opportunity to win an early season title when they take on Maryland Saturday morning (morning!) at 10 a.m. The game will once again will be on CBS Sports Network.

Tonight felt like it was the first real glimpse at what this team could be. It was wonderful.

Thanksgiving Bahamas magic forever.