for this game

Louisville handles Long Beach to get back on track

Dec 31, 2014 - 2:13 AM Louisville, KY ( - Terry Rozier had 23 points and seven rebounds as No. 5 Louisville got back to its winning ways with a 63-48 decision over Long Beach State.

Montrezl Harrell finished with 16 points to help the Cardinals bounce back from their lone loss of the season, Saturday's 58-50 setback at home to top- ranked Kentucky. Louisville shot a season-worst 25.9 percent against the powerhouse Wildcats, but went 21-of-41 from the field (51 percent) and forced 19 Long Beach State turnovers in its final tuneup before making its ACC debut.

"For 30 minutes, that is the best basketball we have played all year," Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino remarked. "Our guys were brilliant on defense with their switching and maneuvering, but then we turned it around and we were great passing the basketball."

Harrell hit on 7-of-11 attempts for Louisville (12-1), with Wayne Blackshear contributing 12 points and seven rebounds in the triumph.

Branford Jones scored 13 points as the 49ers (5-10) closed out a winless six- game road stretch that contained four matchups against ranked opponents.

The Cardinals appeared to be dealing with a post-Kentucky hangover early on, owning just a 20-19 lead through 14 minutes of play as Long Beach State stayed close behind eight points from Jones.

Louisville then turned it up defensively, as the 49ers missed their last nine shots of the first half and committed four turnovers in the period's final six minutes. The drought led to a 14-0 run that enabled the Cardinals to gain separation.

Blackshear dropped in seven points during the surge, including a trey with 55 seconds left that sent Louisville into the break owning a 34-19 advantage.

"Whatever that run was, (it) was a critical one," said Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson. "There is a fine line between attacking their pressure and getting sped up and turning it over or not making plays. I thought we let our frustration on the offensive end dictate and we gave them a lot of looks."

The Cardinals dominated the early stages of the second half as well, with five straight points by Rozier highlighted a 11-0 tear that extended the margin to 45-23 with 14 1/2 minutes left.

Louisville then went without a field goal for more than nine minutes, enabling the 49ers to close the gap considerably. David Samuels led an 11-2 flurry that pulled Long Beach State within 51-41 with 5:47 remaining, and it was a 57-48 game with 2:44 to go following Mike Caffey's 3-pointer off a Cardinals' turnover.

Harrell took over in crunch time, however, sinking a key jumper and throwing down a dunk with 49 seconds left that increased the lead to 13 points.

Game Notes

Long Beach State also lost to San Diego State, Texas and St. John's during its skid, with the other two defeats coming to teams that reached last season's NCAA Tournament (Stephen F. Austin, Syracuse) ... The Cardinals will play their first-ever ACC game Sunday at Wake Forest ... Caffey, who entered the game shooting 47 percent from 3-point range on the season, hit just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc in an 11-point effort ... Louisville has now won 36 straight home games against unranked teams.