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Louisville big man heading to NBA Draft

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After a day of mixed messages, Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku finally made it official.

He’s staying in the NBA Draft.

“After talking to my family and going through the NBA process,” Onuaku wrote in an Instagram post, “me and my family have decided that it would be best for me to keep my name in the draft.”

The day started out with Cardinals coach Rick Pitino telling multiple media outlets that the 6-foot-10 sophomore would remain in the draft after he declared last month without an agent and attended the draft combine. Onuaku, though, appeared to at least mildly refute that with an Instagram post that said his decision wouldn’t come until later Wednesday evening. Which it did, confirming Pitino’s words.

The confusion may have been frustrating for observers, but Onuaku’s social media presence no doubt has benefited from the bizarre day.

Onuaku averaged 9.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.6 assists in 24.6 minutes per game last season, making his per-40 numbers, a metric NBA teams like to take into consideration, nothing short of fantastic. He also shot a not-so-shabby 62.0 percent from the floor. His size, athleticism and ability to score around the basket (he’s taken one 3-pointer in two seasons) make him a potential first-round selection in next month’s draft.

The 19-year-old Onuaku underwent a procedure on his heart last week due to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. It has been described as a minor procedure that will not affect his ability to play long-term or work out with teams leading up to the draft.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, should be able to absorb Onuaku’s loss seemlessly as they return the bulk of last year’s team that went 23-8 and was ranked 10th in KenPom, but was banned from the postseason as a result of the Katina Powell bombshell. Newcomers Tony Hicks (Penn transfer) and V.J. King (consensus top-30 recruit) will also make for solid additions.

No. 16 Louisville beats Utah Valley 98-68

Louisville's Trey Lewis (3) shoots as Utah Valley's Andrew Bastien (42) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Trey Lewis scored 21 points and No. 16 Louisville used a hot shooting start to coast to a 98-68 victory over Utah Valley on Wednesday night.

Louisville (11-1) made 18 of its first 24 shots and shot 69 percent from the field in the first half (20 of 29) to blow past Utah Valley, one night after an out-of-sync showing in beating UMKC.

Konner Frey led Utah Valley (5-8) with 17 points and Marcel Davis scored 15. Seven Cardinals scored at least eight points.

The Cardinals finished 31 of 56 (55 percent) from the field and hit nine 3s. Utah Valley shot 40 percent.

Broken left foot to sideline Louisville’s Mangok Mathiang

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, right, talks to Mangok Mathiang during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Western Kentucky, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 78-56. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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No. 17 Louisville’s 78-56 win over Western Kentucky Saturday afternoon came with a price, as a key member of their front court rotation was lost due to injury.

Junior forward Mangok Mathiang left the game in the second half and did not return, with it being revealed following the game that he’d broken a bone in his left foot. Due to undergo surgery to repair the break in the coming days, Mathiang is expected to miss anywhere from six to eight weeks.

Mathiang is the third Louisville front court player to suffer an injury over the last month. Freshman Deng Adel has been out since mid-November due to a sprained knee, and sophomore center Anas Mahmoud has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle.

Without Mathiang there will be even more minutes to distribute amongst freshman Raymond Spalding and sophomores Chinanu Onuaku and Jaylen Johnson. Onuaku posted a double-double against WKU with ten points and 12 rebounds, and Johnson added eight points and six rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.

Lee scores 18 as No. 19 Louisville tops Kennesaw State 94-57

Donovan Mitchell, Quentin Snider, Kendrick Ray
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Damion Lee scored 18 points as No. 19 Louisville used another strong shooting performance to beat Kennesaw State 94-57 on Wednesday night.

Louisville (8-1) shot 59 percent (40 of 68). The Cardinals’ 40 field goals were their most since Dec. 22, 2010, against Western Kentucky.

The Cardinals have now shot above 50 percent in eight of their nine games, matching their total for all of last season.

Chinanu Onuaka was 8 of 10 from the floor, scoring 16 points. Donovan Mitchell had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinals.

Yonel Brown led the Kennesaw State (3-9) with 19 points and Kendrick Ray added 13. The Owls shot 39 percent.

It was another blowout for the Cardinals against an outmatched opponent. Louisville made 7 of 15 3s in the first half, matching the number of Kennesaw State field goals, and led 41-19 at the break without shooting a free throw.

Kennesaw State started the game 1 of 15, missing 13 straight while scoreless for more than eight minutes, as Louisville jetted out to a 17-3 lead. The Owls traded baskets for the next few minutes before a 10-0 Louisville run made it 36-14 with 2:23 left before halftime.

The Cardinals shot 66 percent in the second half (23 of 35). Their 14-2 run, highlighted by Mitchell’s steal and one-handed slam, stretched the lead to 70-35 with 9:03 to play. Mitchell’s even more impressive dunk off an alley-oop gave Louisville an 81-43 advantage with 6:06 remaining.

The Cardinals entered the game outscoring opponents by 30.6 points a game, best in the country. Louisville used a significant height advantage to outrebound Kennesaw State 47-22.


Kennesaw State: The 6-foot-1 Ray had the night’s top play with his tomahawk dunk over a 6-10 Onuaku. … Preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection Yonel Brown entered as the nation’s leader in minutes played, averaging 38:54 a game. … The Owls had nine days off prior to playing Louisville due to final exams.

Louisville: Lee made four of Louisville’s 10 3-pointers. … Forward Anas Mahmoud sat out with a sprained ankle.


Kennesaw State visits Chattanooga on Friday.

Louisville hosts Western Kentucky on Saturday.

No. 22 Louisville cruises past Eastern Michigan 86-53

Raven Lee, Damion Lee
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Damion Lee scored 16 points, all in the second half, and No. 22 Louisville shot 53 percent from the field to overwhelm Eastern Michigan 86-53 on Saturday.

Louisville (7-1) torched another opponent in shooting better than 50 percent for the seventh time in eight games this season. The Cardinals entered the game leading the country in scoring margin at more than 30 points a game.

Quentin Snider scored 13 points, Chinanu Onuaku had 12 and Ray Spalding and Trey Lewis added 11 each for Louisville. The Cardinals had 20 assists on 31 field goals.

Raven Lee led Eastern Michigan (6-4) with 19 points. Freshman James Thompson IV had 12 points and 13 rebounds to earn his sixth straight double-double. Eastern Michigan shot 30 percent (19 of 64) from the field.

Lee, Louisville’s leading scorer at 19 points per game, was held scoreless in the first half and the Cardinals appeared hesitant to attack Eastern Michigan’s 2-3 zone early, relying on five 3s in the first 10 1/2 minutes to gain an early edge. Thompson’s jumper cut the Louisville lead to one before a 7-0 run in 70 seconds made it 16-8 midway through the opening half.

Spalding and Snider, both local products, filled Lee’s void as the Cardinals worked together to score. Spalding had six points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal in the opening half while Snider had 10 points. Snider’s floater at the buzzer gave Louisville a 37-21 lead.

A 10-0 Louisville burst to start the second half put the game out of reach at 47-21. Lee later capped an 8-0 run with consecutive 3s that gave Louisville a 62-30 lead with 12:18 to play. Spalding and Onuaku had seven rebounds each for Louisville.


Eastern Michigan: The Eagles had nine steals after entering third in the nation (11.4 per game). … The Eagles had won four of their last five games. . Louisville and Eastern Michigan both lost at now-No. 1 Michigan State.

Louisville: The Cardinals entered leading the nation in rebounding margin (18.9) and scoring margin (30.3). They are second in scoring defense with 55.7 points allowed per game. . Lewis scored 11 points to go above 1,200 for his career. The graduate transfer played his first three seasons with Penn State and Cleveland State.


Eastern Michigan visits Coppin State on Dec. 21.

Louisville hosts Kennesaw State on Wednesday.

Don’t overlook Bryn Forbes’ contributions for No. 3 Michigan State

Bryn Forbes, Austin Cox
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With senior guard Denzel Valentine proving to be one of the nation’s top players at this early point in the season, the question for No. 3 Michigan State was who would step forward as a consistent supplementary option. Wednesday night another senior guard stepped up, as Bryn Forbes scored 20 points to help the Spartans come back and beat No. 24 Louisville 71-67 in East Lansing.

Forbes scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half, with Valentine scoring 15 points (25, five rebounds and seven assists for the game), shooting 4-for-7 from three against a Louisville defense that gave the Spartans trouble in the first stanza.

Louisville was able to use its length and athleticism in multiple defensive looks, as their press morphed into either man-to-man or a 2-3 matchup zone, disrupting the Michigan State offense as a result. Instead of exhibiting good shot discipline the Spartans hoisted up challenged jump shots, not breaking out of that habit until the latter stages of the half. That was good enough to trim Louisville’s margin to three, but they needed to be more consistent if they were to overtake the visitors.

Also of importance was to have some step forward alongside Valentine, who scored ten points but wasn’t able to create as much for others thanks in large part to the Cardinals’ defensive efforts.

Forbes has the ability to put points on the board, and for the second consecutive game he managed to provided needed scoring alongside Valentine. In two separate second-half stretches Wednesday night his shot-making served as the spark Michigan State needed, the second of which being three-pointers within the span of two minutes and thirty seconds with the last giving the Spartans a 58-56 lead.

There were other contributors to the win, with freshmen Kenny Goins (five points, 13 rebounds) and Deyonta Davis (nine points, six rebounds) being positive factors off the bench. But with Tum Tum Nairn and Eron Harris both struggling offensively, Michigan State needed someone to step forward alongside Valentine to do some of the “heavy lifting,” and Forbes was that man.

This performance is a nice follow-up to Forbes’ 18-point outing in Michigan State’s win over Providence Sunday night, and he’s now reached double figures in six of Michigan State’s eight games to start the season.

Valentine has proven himself to be one of the nation’s best players, and that will continue to be the case. But for Michigan State to make a run at conference and national titles others will need to step up and do so consistently. For most of the season Bryn Forbes has been one of those players, which is a positive sign for the Spartans as they look to win the program’s third national title.