LOUISVILLE - The pre-season has officially ended for Louisville's basketball team.
The Cardinals played their final exhibition game Sunday afternoon at Freedom Hall, beating the Asheville Altitude of the NBDL (National Basketball Development League) 73-59.
"That was the best 16 minutes we've played in practice or game-like situations," U of L coach Rick Pitino said of the game's beginning. "If we can get that up to 32 minutes we'll be a competitive basketball team."
In those first 16 minutes the Cardinals built a 29-13 lead. Louisville's Francisco Garcia then hit back-to-back three-pointers and Taquan Dean added a trey for a 38-13 advantage. At halftime U of L led 38-21.
Louisville shot 41 percent from the field in the first half, including a 43 percent performance from the three-point line. The Cardinals had 10 steals, 13 assists and were outrebounded by just three, 23-20, against a taller team.
"Our zone was very active," Pitino said. "The last time I played this much zone was at Providence in 1987, but we have no choice. We're undermanned, and there's nothing we can do about it right now."
Louisville was minus two players Sunday. Senior guard Prileu Davis sat out with a hand injury, and 6-9 junior Nouha Diakite, a junior college transfer, is being held out of play because of eligibility issues. U of L is also playing this season without senior Ellis Myles, who's being red-shirted after suffering a knee injury late last season.
For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.