LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s concerns about the early season schedule causing his 12th-ranked Cardinals problems might be merited at some point.
Right now, the Cardinals are handling non-conference opponents with surprising ease.
Jaylen Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Deng Adel added 11 points and Louisville jumped on Long Beach State quickly for an 88-56 blowout Thursday.
The Cardinals (3-0) outscored the 49ers 23-2 over a 5:28 span in the first half for a 30-8 lead en route to their third straight 30-point win to open the season. Louisville’s height advantage made the difference on both ends as it controlled scoring in the paint 42-20 and rebounding 51-37.
Louisville’s fast, effective start toward that end impressed Pitino enough to compare his team’s effort to the 2013 NCAA championship squad, which is saying something this early in the season.
“That was really, really special to see,” said Pitino, whose team made 11 of their first 14 shots before finishing at 45 percent (34 of 76) from the field. That was a clinic at the offensive end and a clinic at the defensive end.”
Johnson helped get the Cardinals going with 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half en route to his second double-double in three games.
“I just make sure I’m more efficient,” said Johnson, who made 7 of 11 from the field in 18 minutes.
The 49ers (1-3) made just 18 of 61 from the field (30 percent) and couldn’t slow the Cardinals in any phase while losing to their second ranked Atlantic Coast Conference foe in three days. Fifth-ranked North Carolina used a quick start to beat Long Beach State 93-67 on Tuesday night.
“It was similar because we just weren’t able to withstand that first blow to stay in the game,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “Once we got comfortable, it’s too late. Game’s over. You come on these road trips to try to put your kids in adversity to get them better and I don’t feel like we handled it any better than we did Tuesday.”
Mangok Mathiang added 11 points and Ray Spalding had 10 for Louisville. The Cardinals blocked nine shots in winning the first of four games in the Battle 4 Atlantis that continues next week in the Bahamas.
Evan Payne had 15 points and Gabe Levin added 12 for Long Beach State, which fell to 0-3 against the Cardinals.
THE BIG PICTURE
Long Beach State: Just when the 49ers seemed capable of playing Louisville close at 7-6, they missed their next 10 shots and 14 of 16 overall in a drought that dug an insurmountable hole. That comes two nights after they trailed North Carolina 14-0. … Long Beach State committed 19 turnovers leading to 25 Louisville points.
Louisville: Good thing the Cardinals dominated the paint, because their perimeter shooting is still a work in progress. Adel and Donovan Mitchell (eight points) combined to make their first three attempts from behind the arc, but the team didn’t make another until David Levitch and Ryan McMahon made both their attempts in the second half. Louisville still finished 7 of 20 from long range after entering the game 13 of 43 through two games. … McMahon and Quentin Snider each had five assists for the Cardinals, who finished with at least 20 in consecutive games for the first time since 2010-11.
Barring any movement by teams ahead of Louisville before Monday, next week’s Battle 4 Atlantis matchups could determine the Cardinals’ ranking for the following week.
Tipoff was 4 p.m. to allow Louisville fans time to watch this game and the third-ranked football team’s nationally televised contest at Houston with an 8 p.m. kickoff. Attendance was 14,337, down from the usual sellouts at the KFC Yum! Center.
Long Beach State: The 49ers’ tough early season schedule continues with a visit to No. 16 UCLA on Sunday.
Louisville: Continues play in the Battle 4 Atlantis against Old Dominion on Wednesday in the Bahamas.