November 28, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Trey Lewis got two very different views of Rick Pitino around the last two Thanksgiving.

Last year he scored 24 points for Cleveland State when Louisville beat the Vikings for Pitino's 700th win.

On Saturday night he was on the same bench with Pitino as a graduate transfer and he scored 22 points to lead the Cardinals to a 77-57 victory over Saint Louis in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center.

''It feels great,'' Lewis said of playing for rather than against Pitino. ''A year ago around this time, I never thought I would be here. So it's just really a blessing, truly an honor to play for this team, and play for this coach. So I'm just learning as much as I can and try to be in the moment and enjoy this last year of college basketball.''

If Louisville (5-0) plays the way it did in pulling away from the Billikens (4-1), Lewis, Pitino and the Louisville fans might really enjoy this season.

''I'm really happy with my new basketball team,'' Pitino said. ''Four starters from last year and 85 percent of the scoring are gone. This is a damn good basketball team.

''I think we had the best recruiting class in college basketball if you include Lee and Lewis,'' Pitino said referencing Damion Lee, another graduate transfer from Drexel.

''Kentucky taught me to coach 1-and-dones except now I have to wait four years to get them,'' he said with a big smile.

Mangok Mathiang had career highs of 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinals, who were in a back-and-forth game with the Billikens until they turned to full-court pressure, started switching defenses and kept up their huge rebounding advantage.

''Mango plays like that consistently for us every single day. He never has a bad day,'' Lewis said.

Mathiang gave Lewis the credit for the victory.

''First half, he wasn't playing his game, kind of playing tight,'' he said. ''... He picked us up tremendously in the second half. Without him I don't think we would have such a big lead.''

Louisville led 30-27 at halftime and the lead was the same when the Cardinals finally put a run together. Lewis and Lee had four points each in a 10-0 run that made it 51-38. The Billikens never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Mike Crawford led Saint Louis with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 4 of 5 on 3s. Milik Yarbrough added 14 points.

''They're a big physical team and we weren't really able to rebound with them at all and (Mathiang) was really good tonight,'' Saint Louis coach Jim Crews said. ''They were getting buckets near the rim and since they were long, we weren't getting buckets near the rim and I thought that was the main difference.''

What made the Cardinals' win even more impressive was that they managed to go just 5 of 17 from 3-point range, including 1 of 10 in the first half. Saint Louis was 8 of 16 from behind the arc but that didn't help much with Louisville finishing with a 36-14 rebound advantage. The 6-foot-10 Mathiang, a junior, outrebounded the Billikens by three himself.

Lee and Quentin Snider each had 10 points for the Cardinals, who won in their first game this season away from home. They outscored Saint Louis 40-20 in the paint and 13-2 on second-chance points.

Louisville's other big advantage came at the free throw line where the Cardinals were 20 of 25 compared to the Billikens' 9 of 14.

''Come (NCAA) tournament time this will be a hell of a basketball team,'' Pitino said.

UNDERHANDED MOVE: The crowd at Barclays Center had its biggest buzz early in the second half when Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku went to the free throw line for the first time and took the shots underhanded, ala Rick Barry in the old days.

Onuaku went to the underhanded style after shooting 46.7 from the line as a freshman. He worked on the new technique all summer and with the 1-for-2 effort Saturday he is 3 for 5 this season.

TIP-INS:

Louisville: The Cardinals lead the series 47-20. ... Louisville is 32-6 on neutral courts the last four seasons. Half the losses have come in NCAA Tournament regionals. ... The Cardinals are 35-3 in November the last seven seasons and they have won 11 straight in the month.

Saint Louis: The Billikens entered the game with four players averaging in double figures. ... Saint Louis is 3-3 at Barclays Center. The Billikens won the Atlantic 10 Tournament here in 2013. ... Saint Louis and Duke were the only teams last season to have a freshman lead them in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

UP NEXT:

Louisville is at No. 3 Michigan State on Wednesday.

Saint Louis hosts Morehead State on Wednesday.

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