Preseason No. 3-ranked Louisville didn't let the College of Charleston foil its season opener or national championship banner unveil on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center.
Russ Smith scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Cardinals (1-0) to a 70-48 victory over the Cougars (0-1). Newcomer Chris Jones added 12 points and Wayne Blackshear had 11.
It started off as a low-scoring affair as CofC and Louisville traded the lead six times in the first half. A jumper by junior big man Adjehi Baru (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) shifted the momentum, 9-8, at the 14:39 minute mark and everything seemed to be going the Cougars' way.
For the game, Louisville shot 38.2 percent from the floor (10-of-29 in the first half) and 22.2 percent from behind the three-point line against CofC's pressure defense.
In his collegiate debut, redshirt freshman Canyon Barry (Colorado Springs, Colo.) scored eight of his team-high 10 points in the first half of play as the Cougars' trailed by just two to the defending national champions at halftime, 29-27.
Foul trouble plagued CofC in the second half as freshman point guard Joe Chealey (Orlando, Fla.) was charged with his fourth foul as well as senior Willis Hall (Charlotte, N.C.) and Barry. The Cougars had to rely on their bench and the Cardinals used it to their advantage.
Louisville scored 27 of its points on 21 miscues by the Cougars. Baru recorded eight points and nine rebounds, while Chealey had eight points, four rebounds and three assists in his college debut.
CofC will have a quick turnaround with its home opener scheduled against Charlotte (1-0) on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena.
· The Cougars used the starting lineup of freshman Joe Chealey, junior Anthony Stitt, redshirt freshman Canyon Barry, senior Willis Hall and junior Adjehi Baru. It marked the first career starts for Chealey and Barry.
· Louisville now leads 4-0 in the all-time series with College of Charleston. The Cougars are now 1-4 all-time against top 5 foes.
· Barry led CofC in scoring with 10 points including two three-pointers in his official Cougar debut, while Chealey turned in eight points, four rebounds and three assists in his first collegiate game.
· It marked the third time in program history that CofC faced the defending national champion during the regular-season: No. 3 Louisville (2013) in 2013, No. 9 North Carolina (2009) in 2010 and No. 8 Kentucky (1996) in 1996.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the difference between last year's game and this year's game against Louisville …
"No Peyton Siva. He was a very good player. This year, we have more ball handlers, even if at times it didn't look that way. We had 21 turnovers in the game. We felt comfortable, felt big enough and felt athletic enough (against Louisville). We are a pretty good defensive team. There were a lot of positives for us and I was pleased with our effort today. I'm disappointed the game didn't go down-to-the-wire. We were in it and only down by two at halftime. I've never had a team of mine compete against a top 5 team like this. I never felt we couldn't compete once the ball went up. We have a lot to build on. It's going to be a great year for us."
On the play of the freshmen …
"Canyon Barry made a ton of basketball plays today. Joe Chealey had no problem with the ball. No one took the ball from him. Both of those kids made some great plays in the game. Johnathan Burroughs-Cook came off the bench and made a big three in the second half. They (freshmen) are going to learn as we go, which is great."
College of Charleston Redshirt Freshman Guard Canyon Barry
On the game …
"Coach Wojcik and our coaching staff drew up a good game plan. We came out and executed in the first half, but did not get offensive rebounds and made turnovers in the second half. You can never execute the perfect game. We did well corralling ball screens, because all of their guards were really quick. I was happy with how we played. We just have to keep getting better and move on to the next game and defend our home court on Tuesday (against Charlotte)."
On playing his first game against the defending national champions …
"It was an awesome experience to play here. What more could you want for your first college game to play against one of the best teams in the country? It was a great team effort, but we didn't convert in the second half. They are a really good team and are well coached and that's what you expect from the defending national champions."