Our Louisville Cardinals rolled into the Sun Dome in Tampa Florida this afternoon and rolled over the South Florida Bulls 59-41. This completes a two game sweep of the Bulls this season and Louisville now leads the all-time series 27 to 4 and 10 to 1 in the Big East regular season. With this win, Louisville stays within a game of first place in the Big East race.
Like every game, I’ve watched when these two teams play each other there were moments when the game was very ugly. But today the Cards made the most of USF’s grueling grind it out style of play. The Cards had some nice dunks, plays and their passing was as good as it has been all year long. The team played more as a unit today instead of a group of individuals. I really do think these guys are finally hitting their stride.
Russ Smith led all scorers in the game with 15 points but I was impressed with his overall stat line, and I think this might have been one of his best games from an all around standpoint. To go along with his scoring he had six rebounds, four assist, one steal and was 7 for 7 from the free-throw line. Russ finishes this day only 34 points away from the 1000 point club. This type of play makes a dangerous Russ Smith lethal to opposing teams. I have mentioned Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware several times this season in my post game rants. I have wanted to see these guys step up and contribute all season. Well today, they answered my call. They were the Cardinals offense in the first half that led to a 22 to 3 run. These guys accounted for 19 of the Cardinals final 59 points. I hope they can keep it going like this because this is a different team when they play like they did today. Chane Behanan has had his struggles from the line this season but he has been the most consistent player in the last couple of weeks. He had another solid outing today scoring 12 points. Peyton Siva did his job again today a distributed the ball well leading the game with seven assist. But I would really like to see him get to the free-throw line more. In the Cards 13 Big East games today marks the seventh time that Peyton has not been to the free-throw line. Really, think this has to change for a post-season run. Gorgui was a beast again today on the boards leading the way with 10 rebounds and also had 5 blocked shots. Again, he struggled on the offensive end of the floor and seemed very timid at times. I have my fingers crossed that his confidence will return offensively before March. The Cardinals defense held South Florida to just 24.5% on 13-53 shooting and forced 16 turnovers. And they scored 23 points off of those turnovers.
This was a great effort today from the Cards in a hard fought game. They really did have a very complete day. How is this for a team effort? In these categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks the Cards had four different players that lead in each. The Cards have now won four games out of their last five and 2 games in the 7 game goal to complete the season. They will now get a week to prepare for their next game at home against Seton Hall.
Coach Pitino won his 650th game today and said that it was the best played game of the season because of passing and defensive effort. Here is some of his quotes after the game:
Coach Pitino: “When we pass it we’re tough to beat. Nights we have struggled are when we didn’t pass it well.”
Coach Pitino on Russ Smith: “I thought it was one of his best games of the season. He might not think so but it was.”
Coach Pitino on Dieng’s five blocks: “He should’ve had 10, he kept going for shot fakes, but he played well. This was a really good team win.”
Coach Pitino: “The reason sometimes we’re not a good shooting team is we haven’t been a good passing team. One area we have struggled all year.”