- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Quentin Snider and No. 19 Louisville handled Western Kentucky on Saturday.

But the Cardinals lost a key contributor in the 78-56 win.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said center Mangok Mathiang is expected to miss six to eight weeks after he broke the fifth metatarsal in his foot. It will require a screw to be inserted.

Pitino called the 6-foot-10 junior his “best physical player” and the team’s most consistent communicator.

“I’m the vocal leader on this team,” Mathiang said. “Whether I’m on the floor or not on the floor I’m always going to be there and let my teammates hear me.”

Chinanu Onuaku said his frontcourt mate’s absence will sting.

“It’s be a big blow because he’s a captain and one of the leaders of the team,” Onuaku said.

Louisville raced to a big halftime lead, thanks to what Pitino said was his team’s best defense of the season.

Snider led Louisville (9-1) with 16 points. Trey Lewis scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Damion Lee also had 15 points for the Cardinals.

Onuaku had his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Fredrick Edmond led WKU (6-5) with 14 points and eight rebounds.

The Hilltoppers entered the game shooting 40 percent from behind the arc, but missed their first 13 3s and scored a season-low 16 points in the first half.

“When a team shoots 33 percent and only has three offensive rebounds, and no threes, you’re doing everything correct,” Pitino said of the first-half defensive stat line.

WKU had averaged nine 3-pointers a game, but finished just 2 of 18 (11 percent).

“If you’re going to win a game against a team like that, you’ve got to shoot the ball a little bit better,” WKU coach Ray Harper said, noting that the Hilltoppers shot just 10 of 20 from the foul line.

WKU scored more points in the first five minutes of the second half than it did in the first. The Hilltoppers trailed 34-16 at halftime before their 19-8 run cut Louisville’s lead to seven with 14:34 to play.

WKU’s Aaron Cosby missed an open 3 in transition that would have cut the lead to eight with 13:15 left.

Lee responded eight seconds later with a 3 to give Louisville a 50-36 lead. WKU then had a nearly 4½-minute scoreless drought. Two acrobatic layups from Lewis during an 8-0 run made it 58-38 with 9:23 left.

TIP-INS:

Western Kentucky: Chris Harrison-Docks continued WKU’s streak of at least one 3-pointer in 883 consecutive games with his shot with 6:43 to play. The streak goes back to March 15, 1987. … The Hilltoppers added transfer Jabari McGhee from Tennessee this week. He is the second former Volunteer to join the program this year, joining fellow forward Willie Carmichael.

Louisville: Forwards Anas Mahmoud and Deng Adel missed the game with injuries. Mahmoud sat his second game with a sprained ankle while Adel has not played since spraining his left knee on Nov. 20.

REPLACING MATHIANG:

Mathiang started two of Louisville’s 10 games this season, but has more experience than anyone in the program, serving as one of three captains alongside graduate transfers Lewis and Lee. He scored three points and had five rebounds in 21 minutes before the injury.

Mathiang is averaging 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. He had his first career double-double this season with 17 points and 13 rebounds in a win against St. Louis.

Freshman forward Ray Spalding started his second consecutive game and should see additional minutes, along with sophomore Jaylen Johnson.

SERIES HISTORY:

The Louisville-Western Kentucky series dates back to 1926. The teams entered the game with 39 wins each. This year marked the eighth straight the teams have played with Louisville winning the past six. The Cardinals have won 23 of the past 26 meetings.

UP NEXT:

Western Kentucky hosts Detroit on Tuesday.

Louisville hosts UMKC on Tuesday.

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