LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With his team playing short-handed, Donovan Mitchell promptly took charge for No. 13 Louisville.
Mitchell scored the first 14 points for the Cardinals and finished with 28 on Sunday in an 85-60 romp over North Carolina State.
Louisville was down two guards because of injuries, and Mitchell stepped up. The sophomore hit four quick 3-pointers, with two of them propelling a 15-0 run that made it 21-9.
“We get on these slow starts, and today kind of aggravated me because we had been preparing so hard,” said Mitchell, who made six 3s and had team highs of eight rebounds and five assists.
“I took it upon myself to just go out there and make the right plays, and the guys found me when I was open,” he said.
Mitchell’s 21 first-half points led Louisville (18-4, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a second straight rout and its third in four games. He scored a career-high 29 in a 106-51 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Abdul-Malik Abu and Maverick Rowan each had 13 points for the Wolfpack (14-8, 3-6), who shot 38 percent and failed to follow up on their 84-82 upset at No. 17 Duke .
“That team looked like we had a hangover out there,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. “That wasn’t the same team and the same energy that we had four or five days ago. Not at all. Whether it was intoxicating, all that praise, we’ve got to learn how to handle it.”
Louisville, on the other hand, continued its roll by dominating numerous categories.
The Cardinals made 12 of 24 from long range — matching their season-high total set at Pittsburgh — and shot at least 50 percent for the second straight game. They also had 19 assists, their fifth time this season with at least that many.
Louisville’s second-half defense was even more impressive as it held N.C. State to 8 of 28 from the field (29 percent) after a 46-percent first half.
THE BIG PICTURE
North Carolina State: The ACC’s worst scoring defense offered little resistance against Louisville, allowing the Cardinals to score inside and outside against multiple schemes. Leading scorer Dennis Smith Jr. (19.5 points) was limited to a season-low eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and drew a first-half technical foul.
“I didn’t bring enough energy on either end to start the game,” Smith said. “They follow me, so when I don’t bring a lot of energy it’s hard for them to really get going.”
Louisville: Last week’s hand injury to Tony Hicks created more backcourt reshuffling and led to David Levitch making his first start this season. The senior contributed a couple of 3-pointers himself while reserves Ryan McMahon and V.J. King also hit from the behind the arc.
“Coach told me before the game he really needed my defense to step up,” said Levitch, who had two steals. “I’m not the most athletic person so I had to use my mind. Just try to create angles to make turnovers.”
Mangok Mathiang added 14 points and Deng Adel 10 for Louisville.
Louisville: Winning twice with a 55-point rout at Pitt could get the Cardinals closer to the Top 10.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino left the white suit he usually wears for the annual “White Out” promotion back in Florida. But he found a good substitute, wearing a cream jacket with a grayish windowpane pattern and gray tie with stripes.
North Carolina State: Home this week for games against Syracuse on Wednesday and Miami on Saturday.
Louisville: Hits the road for two ACC games in three days, starting Saturday at Boston College. No. 12 Virginia follows on Feb. 6, where the Cardinals aim to avenge last month’s loss.