Peyton Siva’s 16 point effort and Gorgui Dieng’s first career double-double helped Louisville put the stamp on its invitation to the NCAA tourney. Thanks to another signature win, the Cardinals will undoubtebly be in the big dance.
The Cardinals (20-7) secured their ninth straight twenty win season, and their fourth straight against the Huskies (20-6.) The win came after a double overtime thriller in Connecticut three weeks ago that fired up the Louisville faifthful. UofL put on a show for the 22,776 at the KFC Yum! Center. UConn only led once for 23 seconds and the Cards won it 71-58.
Defense was the biggest story of the first half, with the Cards stealing the ball 7 times. Siva electrifyed the crowd with a tremendous steal and breakaway to a 360 degree dunk. Siva played fantastic all night, and for once showcased that tough defense and not three point shooting could give the Cardinals the victory. Louisville’s sharpshooters Kyle Kuric and Preston Knowles both had 6 points, but shooting from behind the arc still stayed at a good 31 percent.
Gorgui Dieng proved that he will be a forced to be reckoned with as he matures at Louisville. Dieng was at times absolutely dominating. His 13 point/ 12-rebound double double effort was well deserved. If Dieng can continue to play like this for the Cards it will add a completely new dimension to this already excellent team.
The Huskies’ star guard Kemba Walker was able to garner the team high 16 points, but UofL never allowed Walker to dominate the game as he normally does. The Cards held him to three assists and forced him to three turnovers, stats surprising for the player of the year candidate.
The Cards will now travel to play Rutgers on Tuesday at 9pm. Standing ominously behind the Scarlet Knights is the showdown at the Bucket with the fourth ranked Pittsburgh Panthers a week from Sunday. A win there will give the Cardinals a shot at a one seed in the NCAA tournament.
Chris Smith Should Know the C-A-R-D-S Chant
Smith, who notched an impressive 11 points against UConn, was somehow dragged into participating in a mediocre pep rally Thursday in UofL’s student activity center. One student-athlete offered to have Smith “help us out” in starting the chant. As the student body began to proceed with the procedural slow clap, Smith hopped ahead to the “C-A-R-D-S!” Come on Chris. Also, his brother J.R. Smith who plays for the Denver Nuggets was in attendance to see his brother’s best performance since November.
Another Karen Sypher Comment
Rick Pitino said nothing in his post-game presser about the 87 month sentence Karen Sypher received today for attempting to black mail him. In fact he walked out the second one bold reporter tried asking about it at the end of the press conference. Pitino’s lawyer Steve Pence said that Pitino was “glad” about the sentencing. Frankly, so am I. Its quite ironic that the Cardinals had their best performance of the year the same day Sypher gets jail time.