Oh boy what a start to the tourney. I can’t think of anything more exciting than that. All-around terrific performance from everyone on the team.
First off, let me just say that I was correct in saying that Louisville would dominate in the post and defensively.
To address the first point, Louisville had 31 rebounds tonight, as opposed to the Aggies’ 20. As I had said in last night’s preview, this was due in part to the fact that Louisville shot 57% and didn’t miss enough for NC A&T rebound defensively, as well as Louisville having an obvious size advantage against the Aggies. This is evident when looking at the astounding FORTY-FOUR points in the paint for the Cardinals tonight. That’s just amazing. Louisville was able to, all night, drive in the lane and score without any opposition.
Another key part to Louisville’s win was their defense, which seems to have been progressively getting better over these past few games, culminating in an all-out defensive annihilation tonight. Louisville was able to use their outstanding pressure defense and quickness of their backcourt in order to force 27 Aggies turnovers, as well as 20 steals.
And let’s not forget individual performances. Russ Smith was the obvious player of the game for the Cardinals, racking up 23 points, 8 steals, and 3 assists. He was just a monster. Now, very early in the game, Russ was a bit sloppy, but he quickly regained focus and tuned into the game, not letting up his focus until he was subbed out later in the second half. Other key players included Gorgui Dieng, who had 8 points and 7 rebounds, providing for that solid post presence that helped Louisville dominate; Wayne Blackshear, proving that he can shoot well by going 4-8 with 12 points; Peyton Siva was able to provide an excellent presence as a pass-first PG tonight, able to feed it to whomever needed the ball, earning 8 assists, while also grabbing 4 steals for the Cards.
Another thing I’d like to touch on is Montrezl Harrell. This freshman has had an outstanding last few games, including tonight. This guy is really making me think he will have a breakout performance in the upcoming tourney game(s), much like Chane Behanan did as a freshman last year, and much like Rakeem Buckles did in his freshman year. My point: keep your eye on Harrell.
Ok, so now Louisville is technically in the “third round,” even though none of us really consider the first four as a round. Louisville will be taking on the winner of the #8 Mizzou Tigers or #9 Colorado State Rams. We’ll see how that game plays out tonight.
- One game down
Also, here’s a tweet regarding Cy Alexander, the Aggies’ Coach whom I very much respect.
A&T coach Cy Alexander says he told Pitino postgame that he’s rooting for him to win the national championship.
— Mark Ennis (@Mengus22) March 22, 2013