IU tried everything. Man-to-man? Can’t guard him. Zone? Can’t keep him off the glass.
There was just no answer for Montrezl Harrell. Louisville’s All-American forward had his way around the rim, serving as the catalyst for the No. 4 Cardinals’ 94-74 victory in the Jimmy V Classic.
Harrell couldn’t be guarded one-on-one, so IU tried to double-team him. That didn’t work, so the Hoosiers tried a 2-3 zone. Then he started slipping behind defenders for easy buckets.
Harrell exploited a shallow IU frontline on his way to 21 points and 11 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end. He finished with 10-of-13 shooting, including seven dunks.
His work on the offensive glass extended a handful of Louisville possessions and led to easy baskets. Time after time, IU forced Louisville into a missed shot, but Harrell was there for a putback or to start the possession over again.
There was nothing IU could do to stop him.
“Montrezl Harrell is much like their entire team, he is relentless on both sides of the court,” IU Coach Tom Crean said before the game. “He can score at the rim and he can shoot the ball. And he can really rebound it.”
After the game, Louisville Coach Rick Pitino said Harrell was the best player in the country.
Harrell’s performance highlighted Louisville’s ability to control the paint all night. The Cardinals pulled in 26 offensive rebounds, which allowed them to make up for a 44 percent shooting performance.
Over 50 percent of Louisville’s misses resulted in offensive rebounds.
IU couldn’t end possessions on defense and couldn’t maintain them on offense. The Hoosiers committed 19 turnovers against the Cardinals’ full-court, high-pressure defense.
As a result, IU attempted 18 less field goals.
Any offensive success IU found was tied to Yogi Ferrell. The junior guard finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but his impact was best illustrated by a stretch with him on the bench.
Late in the first half, Crean substituted off his star guard for a couple minutes of rest. IU promptly turned the ball over three consecutive times, leading to two dunks and a layup from Harrell and an IU timeout. Ferrell re-entered the game immediately.
After the Hoosiers used a 10-0 run to take a 47-46 lead early in the first half, the Cardinals responded with runs of their own.
A 23-8 Louisville second-half run saw the Cardinals stretch the lead and put the game away for good.
James Blackmon, Jr., led IU with 18 points while Louisville guard Terry Rozier contributed a game-high 26. Rozier, Harrell and guards Wayne Blackshear and Chris Jones combined to score 85 of Louisville’s 94 points.
The loss drops IU to 7-2 on the season and 1-1 against ranked opponents. The Hoosiers’ next game is scheduled for Saturday evening against Grand Canyon.