No. 3 Louisville opens title defense with easy win
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Shaky at the start, No. 3 Louisville outscored College of Charleston 22-3 in the final 6:41 on Saturday to pull away to a 70-48 victory in the first game of its national championship defense.
Preseason All-America Russ Smith led Louisville with 21 points and five assists. His new backcourtmate Chris Jones, last season's junior college player of the year, added 12 points and five assists.
Charleston trailed 48-45 after freshman Canyon Barry's hit a 17-footer with 6:55 to play. Then Smith asserted himself, hitting two free throws and driving to find forwards Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear for easy baskets that gave the Cardinals a 54-45 lead with 5:05 left. Charleston scored again with 2:42 remaining, making it 61-47 and ending a 13-0 Louisville run.
Barry led Charleston with 10 points while Adjehi Baru added eight points and nine rebounds.
Louisville raised its third national championship banner to the rafters before the game.
Scott, Ross star for No. 11 Ohio State in big win
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- If the rest of the starts by Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross go like the first one, No. 11 Ohio State won't have any problem having a superlative season.
Scott scored a career-high 16 points and Ross, also starting for the first time as a junior, had 14 points and a personal-best 11 rebounds to lead the Buckeyes past Morgan State 89-50 on Saturday.
Asked which career high most pleased him, coach Thad Matta refused to choose.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. led the way with 18 points and spurred a first-half spurt for the Buckeyes, who improved to 93-18 in home openers and 89-22 in season debuts.
Much of the drama vanished early after Ohio State scored the first eight points and built a 26-point halftime lead.
Sam Thompson added 14 points and freshman Marc Loving had 10 for Ohio State. Scott had seven assists to go with his 16 points, while Ross registered his first career double-double.
No. 15 Gonzaga tops Bryant 100-76 in season opener
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Sam Dower spent the last few seasons backing up star Kelly Olynyk.
Now the 6-foot-9 senior knows its his time to shine for the 15th-ranked Bulldogs.
Dower had 21 points and 17 rebounds in Gonzaga's season-opening 100-76 win against Bryant on Saturday night. It was his second career double-double. The victory, before a sellout crowd of 6,000, was Gonzaga's 10th consecutive in a McCarthey Athletic Center season opener.
''It's finally my time and I'm really excited about that,'' said Dower, who was making his eighth career start. ''I put in a lot of hard work preparing for this season and it showed tonight. I feel a lot more confident (starting) than I did coming off the bench. When you start, you have to set the bar out there for the guys.''
He did, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds before halftime.
Dower's previous high in rebounds was 10, set against Xavier in his sophomore season. But with Bryant (0-1) featuring no one taller than 6-8, Dower and 7-1 sophomore center Przemek Karnowski dominated inside.
No. 16 Wichita State crushes Emporia State in season opener
WICHITA, Kan. -- Cleanthony Early scored 21 points and Ron Baker added 17 to lead No. 16 Wichita State to a 93-50 victory against Emporia State on Saturday in the Shockers' first game since their Final Four appearance.
The Shockers cruised in their season opener against Emporia State, an NCAA Division II team playing for the second consecutive day, by shooting 51.7 percent and attempting 22 more free throws than the Hornets.
Baker led the shooting effort by going 7 of 9 from the field, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range, while adding six assists. Fred VanVleet had 12 points and six assists for Wichita State.
The Shockers were 25 of 33 from the free throw line while Emporia State was 8 of 11.
Terrence Moore, playing in his hometown, led Emporia State with 15 points while Kaleb Wright added 12.
No. 23 New Mexico cruises past Alabama A&M
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk gave Craig Neal a winning debut as New Mexico coach.
Bairstow had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Kirk added 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the 23rd-ranked Lobos opened the season with an 88-52 victory over Alabama A&M on Saturday night.
Kendall Williams added 17 points and seven assists for New Mexico (1-0) and Cullen Neal, son of the head coach, finished with 12 in his college debut. Bairstow shot 9 for 10 from the field and Kirk was 7 for 13.
Alabama A&M couldn't control New Mexico's interior players as the Lobos jumped out to a 10-0 lead then stretched it to 21-3 with Bairstow contributing eight points in the stretch.
The lead didn't drop below 15 the rest of the way.
Jeremy Crutcher had 17 points to lead the Bulldogs (0-1). No other teammate scored in double digits.