Louisville and Saint John’s played in a game of runs for the first 30 minutes but Louisville had the last laugh as they improved to 20-5 on the season. Russ Smith’s 12 straight points in the second half propelled Louisville to a 72-58 win.
Peyton Siva played one of the best games in recent memory after struggling in the overtime loss to Notre Dame. It was released before the game that Peyton Siva had put in contacts for the first time in his career and maybe that was the difference. Siva’s defense was impeccable and he was explosive on offense. With time running out in the first half, Siva went coast to coast to score on a play that I don’t even think he thought he would get off. Siva’s stat line doesn’t seem all to impressive but the intangible that he brought to this game were definitely a factor in the final score. Siva finished with 12 Pts, 6 Ast, and 4 Rbs.
Russ Smith went into Russdiculous mode in the second half when he scored 12 straight points for the Cardinals. He took shots that were very ill-advised and everything was going in. Smith even commented after the game, “For a while, I almost forgot I was playing with Gorgui, Chane, Peyton, and those guys.” Smith had been catching a lot of slack from the press lately about his questionable choices in almost every overtime but the beauty of Russ Smith is that he can seemingly shrug anything off. This game and the Notre Dame game couldn’t more polar opposites from Russ’s game perspective.
Once again the Cardinals outrebounded their opponent…this time they did it, 43-37. Gorgui Dieng pulled down 17 of the rebounds to go along with his 10 points. Chane Behanan got 8 of them to go along with his 10 points. And Montrezl Harrell had 2 of them while providing a spark for almost punching Chris Obekpa after the whistle. This 3 headed attack that Louisville has developed down low is definitely one of the better in the country. Harrell’s stats never look great but his effort and motor have got him solid minutes and rightfully so.
Luke Hancock got the start over Wayne Blackshear once again and Hancock struggled from the field. He was only 2-7 with 5 points and 2 turnovers. Blackshear didn’t play especially well but he did make a couple plays that made you understand why he is such a high prospect. Blackshear got hit in the shoulder again last night and went down. The training staff called it a strain and said he will be good to go for the next game but I wont feel confident about that till I see it. Blackshear has a long history with shoulder problems so when he went down, everyone in Louisville held their breath.
Louisville’s effort during this game was great and its hard to tell whether the team they were playing just wasn’t that good…or if Louisville is really a newly focused team. This win gave Louisville its 11th 20 win seasons in as many years. Louisville’s next game is Sunday at South Florida at 1.