CHARLESTON, S.C. — Wayne Blackshear had 18 points and No. 5 Louisville used its stifling defense to take control in an 80-38 victory over College of Charleston on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals (7-1) used a 22-7 run midway through the opening half to build a 36-14 lead and easily win their second straight since a loss to Duke.
Russ Smith had 13 points and Peyton Siva 12 for Louisville, which turned up its defense at the sold-out TD Arena. The Cardinals finished with a season-high 18 steals and forced Charleston (5-3) into a season-high 27 turnovers, 11 more than it had averaged coming in.
Adjehi Baru had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Cougars. Charleston leading scorer Andrew Lawrence finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting.
Chane Behanan had 10 points, Louisville's fourth player in double figures.
Louisville had looked shaky its past two games without junior center Gorgui Dieng, who fractured his wrist in a win over Missouri on Nov. 23. Since then, the Cards lost to Duke (76-71) and hung on in a win over Illinois State (69-66) last Saturday.
This time, Louisville pushed the pace early and the Cougars couldn't stand up to its stifling defense. The Cardinals were up 12-3 less than seven minutes in, holding Charleston to 1-of-6 shooting and forcing five turnovers.
Blackshear's 3-pointer began a 22-7 run for Louisville over the final 8 minutes of the half. Smith made seven of eight foul shots in the run while Siva had 6 points.
Louisville had nine steals in the half as its pressing defense rarely let up.
Charleston finished the period with 16 turnovers, the amount it had averaged its first seven games.
The game was the 20th sellout in the TD Arena's five seasons and the Cougars had hoped to rekindle the success it had in 2010 when it rallied past then-No. 9 North Carolina here for an 82-79 overtime victory.
But that game's hero, ex-Charleston guard Andrew Goudelock, is in the NBA now and the Cougars had no one who could keep pace with Siva and Smith.
These teams met last year in Louisville and when then-Cougars coach Bobby Cremins stepped down last year, he urged Cardinals coach Rick Pitino to honor the trip South.
Why wouldn't he? Pitino said if he were going back to college, he'd put Charleston in his top three. It must run in the family since Pitino's daughter, Jacqueline, is a junior majoring in education at Charleston.
The Cardinals continued their frantic pace in the second half, growing the lead to 42 points with 1:50 to go in the game.
Siva had five steals and Smith four and the backcourt did a job on their opponents. Charleston guard Lawrence and Anthony Stitt combined to shoot 3 for 13 and committed nine turnovers.