Associated Press, December 31, 2016

(AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino delivered a clear message to Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel earlier this week.


Play like stars or suffer the consequences.

After benching Mitchell on Saturday and threatening Adel with the same fate if he didn't change his ways, both responded to Pitino's plea. Mitchell scored a career-high 25 points, Adel added 17, the lockdown defense returned and No. 6 Louisville pulled away from No. 16 Indiana 77-62.

"I told him, `I just saw who wants to play like a star and that means he's not counting his misses, he's someone that will shoot every shot and create and not worry about what the outside world thinks of his game,'" Pitino said, describing the conversation he had with Mitchell. "I told Deng, `You're next.'"

The Cardinals (12-2) made it look easy.

Mitchell, Adel, Anas Mahmoud and Jaylen Johnson all made at least five field goals and shot better than 50 percent from the field. Mitchell went 4 of 8 on 3-pointers and Adel was 3 of 6 on 3s. The combination allowed Louisville to shoot a season high 52.9 percent from the field, and if they keep playing this way, everyone knows what's possible.

"It's been a bumpy road for both of us," Adel said, referring to Mitchell. "But today we played free. We got to shoot the ball free and that's how we have to play."

Indiana's bigger problem was contending with Louisville's suffocating defense.

The Hoosiers shot 32.2 percent from the field and were just 1 of 13 over the final 9-plus minutes of the first half. That was all the Cardinals needed to turn a 20-19 deficit into a 39-27 halftime lead.

Indiana never got closer than six points the rest of the game.

OG Anunoby had 14 points and James Blackmon Jr. had 10 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for the Hoosiers (10-4), who have lost consecutive games for the first time since closing out 2014-15 with losses in the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

"I don't see us shooting that way very often, like hardly ever," coach Tom Crean said. "It was not a good day for us offensively at all."


Louisville: The Cardinals are making a case to be dubbed the Indiana state champs. They have already beaten Purdue and Evansville at home, the Hoosiers in Indy and have two games left against No. 24 Notre Dame. Win those and it would be a perfect run. A split with Virginia and Indiana this week probably will be enough to keep Louisville in the Top 10, too.

Indiana: The defending Big Ten champs have lost four times in the state of Indiana this season – twice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, once at Assembly Hall and once at Fort Wayne. Two losses this week won't make fans happy and could prompt pollsters to drop the Hoosiers out of the Top 25 for the first time all season.


Bankers Life Fieldhouse has not been kind to the Hoosiers lately.

They are 4-12 in their last 16 games here and have endured some major disappointments inside this building. They still haven't played for a conference tourney title in Indy, lost the No. 1 ranking inside the field house after losing to Butler here in December 2012 and have lost to Butler and Louisville on the Indiana Pacers home court this year.

They also haven't been themselves here. Indiana is a combined 45 of 118 (38.1 percent) from the field and 10 of 42 on 3s in the two games here this season. On Saturday, Indiana was 20 of 29 from the free-throw line and had 14 turnovers.


Louisville: The Cardinals will make their second straight trip to the Hoosier State on Wednesday when they visit No. 24 Notre Dame.

Indiana: Will try to rebound again when it hosts No. 14 Wisconsin on Tuesday.