Louisville breezes by South Alabama 97-70
Rakeem Buckles added 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds while Peyton Siva 15 points and four assists as the Cardinals (6-0) matched their best start since 2005-06.
Marra became the first Louisville player to top 20 points in a game this season. The previous high point total by a Cardinal had been 18 by Preston Knowles in a win over Florida International on Wednesday.
Martino Brock led the Jaguars (2-5) a career-high 24 points and Augustine Rubit had 15 points and 14 rebounds, but couldn’t keep South Alabama from dropping its fourth straight.
South Alabama did something FIU failed to do earlier in the week: make Louisville work.
The Cardinals scored the first 13 points and were ahead by 20 less than 10 minutes in during their rout of the Panthers, a game so lopsided it left Louisville coach Rick Pitino at a loss for words.
The Jaguars proved to be a tougher out, at least for awhile. Louisville led by just five midway through the first half before Marra kickstarted the Cardinals by hitting consecutive 3-pointers during a 14-3 burst to give Louisville a 31-16 lead.
The run included a tip-in by Siva moments after he narrowly missed an acrobatic no-look reverse lay-up.
South Alabama steadied itself from there behind the play of Brock and Robit, who kept finding just enough holes in Louisville’s defense to the Cardinals from running away.
A putback at the horn by George Goode gave Louisville a 48-30 lead at the break.
Yet South Alabama kept playing trying to push the tempo in hopes of getting back in it. The strategy failed to rattle the Cardinals, who never let the Jaguars get within 16 in the second half.
With Siva and Buckles leading the way, Louisville handled South Alabama’s pressure with ease and finished with a season-low eight turnovers while shooting 51 percent from the floor.
Louisville had little trouble breaking down the Jaguars’ defense and getting into the lane. The Cardinals outscored the Jaguars 52-14 in the paint and had 19 second-chance points.
Terrence Jennings had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for Louisville while Chris Smith added 11 points. It marked the fifth time this season the Cardinals have had at least five players in double figures.
The win kept Louisville perfect through six games for the first time since 2005-06. That team, a year removed from a berth in the Final Four, struggled once it got into Big East play and slipped to 21-13, missing the NCAA tournament entirely.