Louisville es­capes Ni­cholls State 85-72 in Mack’s de­but

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS - BY GARY B. GRAVES AP Sports Writer BIG PIC­TURE

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Steven Enoch had 15 points in­clud­ing sev­eral key free throws down the stretch, Dar­ius Perry added 14 points and Louisville held off Ni­cholls State 85-72 on Thurs­day night to win Chris Mack’s de­but as Car­di­nals coach.

The Car­di­nals (1-0) had to work to put away the stub­born Colonels (1-1), whose 3-point shoot­ing got them within 68-66 with 4:16 re­main­ing. V.J. King (12 points) made a free throw, Perry added a layup and Enoch made two more from the line to make it 73-66.

Foul trou­bles elim­i­nated sev­eral Ni­cholls play­ers, and King, Chris­ten Cun­ning­ham and Perry each took ad­van­tage to make a pair of free throws for a lit­tle more room. Louisville went on to seal a suc­cess­ful if tense first game for Mack, who took over Louisville in March af­ter suc­cess­ful nine-year ten­ure at Xavier.

Enoch, a Con­necti­cut trans­fer, made all nine free throws as Louisville hit 42 of 55 from the line. Jor­dan Nwora added 12 points off the bench for the Car­di­nals, who be­gan a new chap­ter un­der Mack af­ter be­ing im­pli­cated last fall in a fed­eral cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion of col­lege bas­ket­ball and a 2015 sex scan­dal.

Louisville shot 19 of 40 and con­trolled the boards 39-30 against Ni­cholls, which had five play­ers foul out.

Jeremiah Jef­fer­son made 7 of 12 3-point­ers for 24 points to lead Ni­cholls (1-1), which hit 12 of 32 from long range. Gavin Pep­pers added 14 points for the Colonels, who shot 38 per­cent.

Ni­cholls: The Colonels made things in­ter­est­ing at times and stayed within strik­ing dis­tance be­hind 3-point shoot­ing. They needed that perime­ter ac­cu­racy to off­set a size dis­ad­van­tage, es­pe­cially when Ryghe Lyons and Elvis Har­vey went to the bench with four fouls each early in the sec­ond half. Har­vey (two points, four re­bounds) fouled out with 10:37 left, and Lyons fol­lowed less than three min­utes later. Louisville: The Car­di­nals will re­main a work in progress un­der Mack but showed spark in their coach’s de­but. They shot de­cently most of the night while their de­fense suc­ceeded in deny­ing Ni­cholls the in­side. Nwora pro­vided the ini­tial en­ergy off the bench with nine first half points and Ryan McMa­hon con­trib­uted a cou­ple of 3-point­ers that helped Louisville build mo­men­tum.

Ni­cholls State for­ward Bran­don Moore Jr. (22) puts up a shot be­tween the de­fense of Louisville guard Ryan McMa­hon (30), and for­ward V.J. King (13) dur­ing the first half of an NCAA col­lege bas­ket­ball game, in Louisville, Ky., on Thurs­day. AP PHOTO/ TIMOTHY D. EASLEY

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