WKU shot 50% in the second half and had just seven second-half turnovers Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., but the 5th-ranked Louisville Cardinals earned a 78-55 win to wrap up WKU's non-conference slate for 2012-13.
A crowd of 10,728 was on-hand to see WKU and Louisville begin a new four-year series of games. The loss is WKU's third-straight, all coming against teams that went a combined 90-19 and won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament a season ago, and drops the Hilltoppers' record to 8-5. Louisville improves to 11-1.
Brandon Harris led WKU with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Eddie Alcantara had a career high 11 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of action. O'Karo Akamune added six rebounds. Louisville was paced by four players in double figures, led by Russ Smith's 20 points. The Cardinals shot 50.9 percent from the floor for the game (27-for-53) and held WKU to 38.8 percent shooting (19-for-49). Louisville had 40 points in the paint and 21 fast-break tallies.
The Cardinals shot 51.6 percent as a team in the opening 20 minutes (16-for-31) and forced 13 WKU turnovers due to their pressure, which led to 16 points. WKU made eight of 27 shots in the first half (.296) and outrebounded Louisville, 19-17. Harris led all scorers with 11 first-half points, and three Cardinals had nine apiece.
Louisville was helped by separate scoring runs of 11-0 and 6-0 in the first half, and WKU went over six-and-a-half minutes without scoring at one point.
A composed WKU team came out in the second half and played within five points of Louisville and trimmed the turnovers down from 13 in the first half to seven, but the Cardinals came away with the 78-55 victory. The win is Louisville's fourth-straight in the series.
WKU went on a 9-1 run over 3:33 in the second half to make the score 50-38, but a Wayne Blackshear three-pointer ended the run and spurred another Cardinal scoring burst to secure the lead.
After a break for the holidays, WKU returns home to E.A. Diddle Arena on December 27 against FIU and December 29 against North Texas