December 22, 2014

Louisville prevailed despite star Montrezl Harrell missing most of its last contest.

The fourth-ranked Cardinals shouldn't have too much trouble without their suspended preseason All-American for the entire game Tuesday night against visiting Cal State Northridge.

Averaging 16.7 points and 10.0 rebounds, Harrell drew a one-game suspension from the ACC for earning a flagrant 2 foul and an ejection during Saturday's 76-67 victory at Western Kentucky. The junior forward was sent off with 38 seconds remaining in the first half after throwing an elbow during a scuffle following a loose ball.

''(It) was spur of the moment," said Harrell, who had 14 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes. "It was a heated situation in a dog pile and it took a turn for the worst, honestly. It was just a bad day. ... I know I shouldn't have reacted in that way and I'm truly sorry and apologize for the way I reacted.''

Harrell can return Saturday when Louisville (10-0) hosts top-ranked Kentucky in the rivals' much-anticipated annual meeting.

''We always talk about keeping a level head no matter what the environment may be,'' said Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson, who spoke in place of coach Rick Pitino after the game. ''Montrezl owned up to his part in the mistake and that's what happens in everyday life as well as in basketball, people make mistakes.

"Hopefully it prepares us for a situation like foul trouble or God forbid someone turn an ankle or whatever else. We learned how to play without him in an adverse situation."

Looking to go 11-0 for the second time in four seasons, the Cardinals would appear to have plenty of talent to compensate for Harrell's absence against Northridge (3-9), which lost to ranked San Diego State and Arizona teams by a combined 39 points last month

Sophomore guard Terry Rozier scored a career-high 32 points on 9 of 16 shooting as Louisville went 11 of 22 from the field in the second half to win its only non-conference road contest.

Rozier is averaging a team-leading 16.8 points, and 25.7 in the last three games while shooting 50.9 percent and 9 of 20 from 3-point range in the last four.

"You can see his maturity coming into his own," Johnson said.

With Harrell out, 7-foot freshman Anas Mahmoud came through with a season-high six points, five rebounds and three blocks in 23 minutes.

Mahmoud could see more minutes Tuesday as the Cardinals try to win a 35th straight non-conference home game and help Pitino improve to 39-10 against teams coached by his former assistants. Northridge coach and longtime NBA guard Reggie Theus was an assistant at Louisville from 2003-05.

The Matadors have lost nine straight non-conference road games dating to last season, and are coming off a 75-68 home loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday.

"We just have to keep working," Theus told the school's official website. "There's no magic trick, there's no drills. Just have to keep working. We need to stay real, but we have to stay positive at the same time."

Seniors Stephan Hicks (17.5 points per game) and Stephen Maxwell (14.6 ppg) pace Northridge, which has dropped nine straight road games against Top 25 opponents since a 78-74 win at then-No. 15 UCLA on Nov. 21, 2000.

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