Williams Records Triple-Double in Louisville's Rout of Hartford

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Rick Pitino's pregame instructions to Louisville small forward Terrence Williams are always the same: Fill out the statistical box any way you can.

The junior recorded the third triple-double in school history in No. 6 Louisville's 104-69 rout Saturday of overmatched Hartford, scoring 14 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds in the Cardinals season opener.

"You can see what makes us go," Pitino said. "T-Will obviously passes the ball and makes everybody better."

Against the Hawks (1-3), he directed traffic around the perimeter and hit open teammates who were happy to contribute to Louisville's school-record 22 3-pointers.

Pitino spent the last two seasons trying get the Williams -- whom he considers the best athlete in college basketball -- to buy into Louisville's system, with mixed results.

Too often during his freshman and sophomore seasons, Williams would force the issue on both ends of the floor, taking ill-advised 3-pointers or difficult runners in the lane on offense and gambling on defense.

Andre McGee led seven Cardinals in double figures with 18 points -- all on 3-pointers -- while Jerry Smith had 14 points and Edgar Sosa added 13.

Still, it was Williams who starred. He told McGee earlier in the week he'd get a triple-double against the Hawks. McGee responded by telling Williams he'd probably flirt with the mark but be taken out before he could get there.

"When he told me that, I was like 'I've got to get it early,"' Williams said.

He had little trouble getting the rebounds and assists. Looking comfortable when Pitino moved him to power forward against the smallish Hawks, Williams had two-thirds of the triple-double two minutes into the second half.

While rebounding has rarely been a problem during his career, Williams said the assists were simply a result of taking command on offense and telling his teammates to get open.

"I feel that they should get on the wing and spot up so I can get them the ball," Williams said. "I told them if they got open, I'd get it to them."

Pitino warned the Cardinals before the game about looking ahead to a potential matchup with No. 1 North Carolina in Las Vegas next week. Louisville took control with a 20-4 run midway through the first half.

Joe Zeglinski led Hartford with 13 points and the undersized Hawks tried to use a zone against the bigger Cardinals.

It didn't work. McGee hit four straight 3-pointers in the first half to get the Cardinals started, and Louisville blazed its way into the school record book.

The Cardinals shot 55 percent from the floor and 63 percent from 3-point range.

"We've been shooting lights out (in practice) but all I've been thinking about is we must be terrible defensively because we put on that exhibition in practice all the time," Pitino said. "We do need to work on our defense, but we have been shooting the ball great."

Still, the Cardinals were far from perfect. Louisville turned the ball over 20 times, including eight by Williams, and struggled to effectively use its full-court pressure. Hartford simply threw the ball over the press early, staying close for the first 10 minutes.

It didn't last. Louisville took over late in the first half, fueled by Williams and McGee, who started at point guard ahead of Sosa.

Pitino said McGee earned the start because of his defense, but he looked polished offensively. Moving around the perimeter to find open spots, he simply waited for the ball and buried the shot when it came his way.

"It was one of those days were it was like throwing a rock in the ocean," McGee said. "Guys were giving me good passes and I was just stepping in and trying to knock them down."

The only suspense left midway through the second half was whether Williams would enter the record books.

Told during a time-out he needed four more points -- a twist from his "shoot-first" mentality during his first two years -- Williams obliged with a 3-pointer, then scored on a spectacular reverse dunk off a full-court pass from Will Scott.

The dunk brought the crowd to its feet, and he walked off to a standing ovation with more than five minutes left.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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