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Samuels shines again for Louisville

Nov 24, 2008 - 2:10 AM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- While his debut was strong, freshman Samardo Samuels was even better in his second game.

Samuels scored a season-high 24 points as third-ranked Louisville rolled to a 79-56 victory over South Alabama in Sunday's title game of the Billy Minardi Classic.

The 6-8 Samuels went 9-of-10 from the field, improving upon his 18-point effort in his debut in Saturday's 79-41 win over Morehead State.

The leading candidate to fill the Cardinals' major hole in the center following the departure of David Padgett and Juan Palacios, Samuels has had no problem supplying offense inside, shooting 17-of-22 from the field.

One area that the native of Jamaica has been lacking in has been rebounding, as Samuels has just collected just nine, including four on Sunday.

"I think he's one of the best freshmen I've ever coached," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "He doesn't rebound, he doesn't play great defense. You must rebound, play better defense, and block shots if you want get to where you want to go some day. He's very talented but he must learn how to rebound, block shots, and play better defense. That's what we're here for and I'm not going to let up on that."

So far, Louisville (2-0) has not needed any big rebounding efforts, as it has recorded its first two wins by a combined margin of 61 points.

After Samuels scored the first five points of the contest, the Cardinals opened up a 23-12 lead with 9:55 remaining on the strength of an 18-7 run. They held a 39-27 advantage at the break and never looked back.

Earl Clark and Terrence Williams scored 12 points apiece for Louisville, which forced South Alabama into 24 turnovers while committing just nine of its own.

"That was excellent defense two nights in a row," said Pitino, whose team forced 17 turnovers in Saturday's win. "I was really pleased with the 40 minutes and the way we defended. We had 43 deflections, which was great, in our man, zone and press, really in all phases of our defense.

"We have great respect for South Alabama, that's why we played so hard. We attacked them very well in all phases of the game. It was very good tonight and we didn't turn the ball over which was also good."

A night after managing just two points, Williams put up a complete effort en route to being named the MVP of the event. Along with his 12 points, the senior forward grabbed seven rebounds, handed out seven assists and collected five steals.

"There is a young man who just does it all," Pitino said. "Just really understands the game; (five) steals, seven assists, seven rebounds, and makes people better. He is a very talented basketball player, very deserving of that MVP."

Clark added five offensive rebounds for Louisville, which lost the battle of the boards, 41-38.

"We did outrebound them, so rebounding was good, but we've got to take care of the ball," South Alabama coach Ronnie Arrow said. "I'm not sure of too many teams that are going to put the overall pressure that they do, but we've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball."

Brandon Davis and Domonic Tilford had 16 points each for South Alabama (2-2).

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    SOUTH ALABAMA 27 27 54
    LOUISVILLE (3) 39 42 81 FINAL

    Nov 23 6:03 PM
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    South Alabama 44, Louisville(3) 73  2nd - 4:55Nov 23 5:53 PM


    Nov 23 4:56 PM