LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Miami coach John Cooper knew No. 2 Louisville would challenge his team with pressure defense.
However, the Redhawks weren't prepared for the double trouble created when the Cardinals also began sinking shots. The result was an 80-39 loss on Sunday.
"They've been able to win games without making shots," said Cooper, the Redhawks first-year coach. "So, now when you start making shots it makes you almost a dual-headed monster."
Louisville entered Sunday shooting 25 percent on 3-point attempts, making 15 combined in their first two games. The Cardinals sank 12 against Miami, including career highs from Russ Smith (five) and Wayne Blackshear (four).
"We knew if we let them out the barn, they could get hot but we really didn't expect that from them," said freshman Geovonie McKnight. McKnight and Bill Edwards led Miami with seven points each.
Edwards said the Cardinals' outside shooting was the "exact opposite" of Miami's objective of keeping Louisville out of the lane.
"We were trying to make them shoot those shots," the junior forward said. "We stopped them from getting to the basket like we wanted. We knew Russ could shoot it, and Blackshear. I mean they shot it more than okay."
Cooper knew from his days as a South Carolina assistant about then-Kentucky coach Rick Pitino's defensive intensity and he was pleased with the Redhawks' composure early.
They tied the game at 10 on a Reggie Johnson jumper with 13:48 left in the first half before cracking under the Cardinals' press. Louisville unleashed a 23-2 run as Miami missed nine shots and scored just one field goal until Allen Roberts' 3-pointer with 57 seconds left in the half made it 36-16.
"If you're not making shots – and we haven't shown the ability to make shots – then it makes it even worse than what it really is," Cooper said. "Being able to knock down shots is a great equalizer."
After setting a school record with 22 steals in its 80-54 win against Grambling State last out, Miami's inability to score kept them from matching Louisville's defensive effort. The Redhawks made only 14 field goals and hit seven of its 12 free throw attempts.
"Overall, we had 21 opportunities to get to the pressure," Cooper said. "If you're not scoring, you can't get to it."
Louisville (3-0) scored eight of its first nine baskets from 3-point range.
The Cardinals' 41-point victory margin was their largest since a 106-65 victory over Chattanooga two years ago.
Louisville's defense was just as impressive. The Cardinals held Miami (1-2) to 30 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers, and that seemed to please coach Rick Pitino the most.
"We are a defensive team," he said. "We win with our defense. If we shoot like we did tonight, everything looks great. Shooting, without question, cures a multitude of sins. That is not us. I am happy we shot it well. I am happy we moved the ball well, but we win because of defense."
Miami improved slightly in the second half, but still couldn't keep up with Louisville, which outscored the Redhawks 41-22. The Cardinals led by as many as 48 at 72-24 with 8:39 remaining in the game.
Fifteen of their second-half points came from that point with the Louisville victory well in hand.