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Louisville grinds past Cleveland State for Pitino's 700th win

Nov 27, 2014 - 4:29 AM Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Rick Pitino's 700th career win didn't come nearly as easy as No. 699.

Two days after producing a 61-point blowout on its home court, sixth-ranked Louisville had to scratch and claw against Cleveland State for most of the night before eventually pulling away for a 45-33 victory.

The Cardinals led just 38-33 with under six minutes left before ending the game on a 7-0 run to give Pitino the milestone result over a Cleveland State squad that lost in overtime Saturday to Savannah State, the team Louisville walloped by an 87-26 count Monday at the KFC Yum! Center.

Montrezl Harrell led a Cardinals' contingent that shot a troubling 31.9 percent for the game with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Jones added 11 points and Terry Rozier had nine along with a career-high 11 boards for Louisville (5-0).

Trey Lewis kept the Vikings in it by pouring in 24 points, but Cleveland State (2-3) made just 25 percent of its field goal attempts in another top-notch effort by the Cardinals' defense.

"It wasn't a pretty game," Pitino admitted afterward. "We were very good on defense. It was a good grind-out win."

It at first appeared that the Vikings would suffer a similar fate that befell Savannah State, which went a woeful 2-for-26 from the floor while being outscored 41-7 in the first half of Monday's matchup with the Cardinals. Cleveland State missed 17 of its first 19 shots and was held without a field goal for more than 8 1/2 minutes as Louisville built a 16-6 lead just past the midway mark of the opening half.

Lewis then got red-hot and the Cardinals went cold, however. The Penn State transfer put up 14 of his 18 first-half points during a seven-plus minute stretch in which the Vikings outscored Louisville 16-8 to pull within two. Cleveland State trailed by four at the break after Harrell's layup sent the Cardinals into the locker room holding a 26-22 edge.

Louisville's offense continued to sputter during the early stages of the second half, and the lead was just two when Andre Yates scored off a Cardinals' turnover to make it a 28-26 game with 14 minutes to play.

"This wasn't Savannah State. This team wasn't going to lay down," said Harrell. "They have high-quality players. We saw it in (Lewis)."

The Cardinals were able to create some separation behind their defense, though Cleveland State continued to hang tough despite having points difficult to come by. Louisville's margin was just five, 38-33, with 6:01 to go after consecutive buckets from Lewis and teammate Aaron Scales.

Jones then buried a much-needed 3-pointer -- the Cardinals' first basket in nearly seven minutes -- and the Vikings didn't score the rest of the way. Cleveland State's final eight possessions resulted in five missed shots and three turnovers.

Game Notes

Pitino joined Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Bob Huggins, Roy Williams and Bo Ryan as the only active Division I coaches to reach the 700-win mark ... The Cardinals swept the field of the five-team Global Sports Showcase tournament, which also counted Savannah State, Jacksonville State and Marshall as participants ... The schools were meeting for the first time since Dec. 19, 1990, with Louisville prevailing in all five all-time matchups ... Rozier's previous career high for rebounds was 10, set against Western Kentucky last December.