LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Deng Adel had 20 points, and freshmen Darius Perry and Jordan Nwora combined to score 22 in the second half to rally No. 16 Louisville past George Mason 72-61 on Sunday to win David Padgett's debut as the Cardinals' interim coach.
The Cardinals trailed for the much of the game before their newcomers stepped to make all six combined shots, with many in clutch moments. Louisville shot 70 percent after halftime to win its first regular season contest since longtime coach Rick Pitino was fired last month in the wake of a national federal investigation of corruption in college basketball.
Perry scored 12 of his 17 points after halftime, while Nwora was 3-for-3 from long range for 10 points. Adel meanwhile went 9 of 17 from the field to help the Cardinals win their season opener before 18,304.
Jaire Grayer had 20 points and Justin Kier 18 for George Mason (1-1), which led 46-45 with 11 minutes remaining before Louisville took control.
George Mason: The Patriots pushed the pace throughout and weren't afraid to challenge the taller Cardinals inside. Perimeter shooting was their biggest strength (8 of 27 from long range), but they struggled to keep pace once Louisville started making shots to seize momentum. Ian Boyd had 12 points.
Louisville: The Cardinals moved the ball well and had good looks in the first half, but shots just weren't falling. They became somewhat tentative after that and it looked like Adel would have to carry the offense. That's when Perry and Nwora contributed, with Nwora's 3s coming every time they needed a boost. Louisville's 70 percent shooting after halftime was huge, and it eventually controlled the boards 36-31.
George Mason hosts Binghamton in Atlantic 10 Conference play Thursday in its opening game of the Cancun Challenge.
Louisville hosts Nebraska-Omaha on Friday in the first meeting between the schools. It's the second of four home games to open the season before the Cardinals face Purdue in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)