Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Montrezl Harrell had 20 points and nine rebounds, Russ Smith scored 14 and No. 3 Louisville ran its school-record winning streak to 20 games with an 87-48 win over Hartford on Tuesday night.
Chris Jones and Chane Behanan had 11 points apiece in the Hall of Fame Tip-off Game and Kevin Ware scored four in his second game back for the Cardinals -- and first since news of his missed court date.
The Cardinals (4-0) will play Fairfield on Saturday afternoon in Uncasville, Conn., in another Hall of Fame Tip-Off game. Assuming they win, they could face No. 24 North Carolina in the championship game Sunday if the Tar Heels beat Richmond.
Mark Nwakamma led Hartford (2-3) with 16 points and Yasin Kolo scored 12.
The Hawks had a two-game winning streak snapped. They will play Hofstra on Saturday in Uncasville.
Hartford is winless all-time against nationally ranked opponents. Tuesday's game marked the first time the Hawks faced one since a 104-69 loss to then-No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 29, 2009. It also marked their first-ever game against a reigning national champion.
Hawks coach John Gallagher, a Philadelphia Eagles fan who played on the Saint Joseph's team that reached the Sweet 16 in 1997, said he was inspired by Eagles coach Chip Kelly after a 52-20 loss to the Broncos this season.
"He regrouped the guys. Right now, I need to regroup our guys," said Gallagher. "We didn't expect to get out-toughed and out-manned in every phase of the game, but we did."
It was out of reach early.
Smith scored six of his 11 first-half points during an 8-0 Louisville run to open the game. Hartford was scoreless for over three minutes until Yolonzo Moore II's 3-pointer.
Later, the Cardinals scored 10 straight points to take a 20-6 lead on Jones' 3 with 12 minutes left in the first half. They went up by 23 after a Wayne Blackshear 3 and Terry Rozier layup and carried a 42-21 advantage into halftime.
The outcome was never in doubt in the second half.
"It was a good win for us and we are getting better," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "We are doing a lot of good things from an unselfish standpoint. We just have to get Wayne Blackshear to actually rebound the ball more. He got two at the end of the game but we have to get him to be more aggressive on the backboard."
The Cardinals have won their first four games by an average of 33.5 points this season. Tuesday's 39-point victory is topped only by their 45-point win last Friday over Cornell.
Ware, healed from the grisly broken leg he suffered in the NCAA Tournament, made his in-game return for the Cardinals on Friday. The guard was in the news for a different reason this week after he missed a court appearance Monday on charges of speeding and reckless driving.
Ware was driving a borrowed 2013 Dodge Challenger when he was clocked going 95 mph in a construction zone on Oct. 26. The school said its compliance office completed a review of the situation and found no NCAA violations, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Ware's court date was rescheduled.
Pitino said he was distracted by the Ware story and told the media afterward "to do your homework and find out where all of this stems from."
"We are in a very competitive town," Pitino said. "You guys need to do your homework better. You know, don't say someone's guilty until he's guilty. There are situations all of the time when somebody may be guilty. And I'm not saying my players are angels. He shouldn't have gotten a speeding ticket, shouldn't have taken a friend and done that to his automobile and doing that type of speed.
"That being said, he was very truthful with everything he told us. I know why it was a compliance issue. It's not Louisville people saying things. But, you need to do your job. We'll do our job and let compliance do their job.
"I don't like distractions, at all, and I was distracted the entire day with this nonsense. And to me, it's someone trying to get to a concert and acting like a young kid and he should have acted more like a mature man because he is now.
"He acted like a kid instead and he's going to have to pay the consequences of it, whatever those consequences are. But, it's interesting how things get out. It really is."
In the only other meeting between the programs, the Cardinals cruised to a 104-69 win on Nov. 17, 2007, in the first round of the Las Vegas Invitational at Freedom Hall in Louisville ... Louisville hasn't lost since falling to Notre Dame in five overtimes on Feb. 9.