What a spectacular performance tonight by the Cards. I mean, S-P-E-C-T-A-C-U-L-A-R. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t lriking how Colorado St was able to keep up early on, trading baskets with the Cards, but that was just it-early on. CSU started off hitting shots, leading UofL by 3 early, but that would be their largest lead all day. From the get-go, Louisville’s press was working to perfection. They were trapping Colorado State and wreaking havoc on the Rams, including one 10-second violation on CSU. They weren’t ready for that Cardinal speed from the minute they stepped on the floor. The Rams struggled to prevent Louisville’s defense from owning them all night, eventually turning the ball over 19 times from 11 Louisville steals. Quite simply, Louisville had their way with Colorado State.
Another thing I loved seeing was Russ Smith hitting from right out of the gate. Normally, it takes Russ quite a bit of time to find his rhythm before he starts hitting it in stride. Tonight, Smith was his fearless self, but he was able to hit almost right from the start. Whether it was a mid-range jumper, or a step-back three that was contested, he was ON. Even Lebron James had this to say:
The lil homie Russ Smith putting on a show right now! #onfire
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 23, 2013
Russ finished that game 7-15 with 27points and 2 steals. There was just simply no stopping him. He was on, and the poor defense of Colorado State could not keep him contained. He was over them all night and just had his way with them. Another key thing was the offense being provided by Peyton Siva. From early on, Siva was able to, as always, play lock down pressure defense. Siva was also able to do something he hasn’t focused on that much this season-score. Siva was able to consistently hit layups all night, whether they be teardrops or breakaways. Siva was also able to successfully find his teammates for points as well, spreading the ball around successfully for points. Great all-around game from the Cardinals backcourt.
The Cards also were able to do what I said would be key in winning this game-winning the rebound battle. Louisville was able to beat the best rebounding team in the nation at their own game. The Cards played the right big men the entire game and was able to win the rebounding battle due to the fact that every player that played tonight was committed and bent on pounding the glass, since every player that played tonight besides Luke Hancock had 2+ rebounds, while none had more than 4. Overall, Louisville dominated in the paint, outscoring them 42-14 in the paint, as well as winning the rebounding battle 29-24.
So here we are, the Sweet 16. Coach Pitino will have his boys ready for whomever wins the Oregon-Saint Louis game, you can bet your money on that. And if Louisville comes out playing like they did tonight, nobody will beat them. Go Cards.
Rick on his team getting too over confident this week: “No, I’m such a horse’s ass that isn’t possible.”
— Howie Lindsey (@howielindsey) March 24, 2013