Saint Louis had finally made the game ugly enough to go ahead 29-27, with the University of Louisville having missed its first 10 shots in the second half.
During those five and a half minutes, Stephan Van Treese blowing a point blank tip in, Chris Jones clunking on three attempts, including a layup, Montrezl Harrell three beneath the basket, Luke Hancock on three three-point attempts while committing two turnovers, and Russ Smith, playing with a thumb wrapped in tape, air balling a three-point attempt.
The outlook not good at this point for the defending national champions. Going downhill fast.
Rick Pitino has seen enough. Time out.
Russ Smith, his eyes glazed, his body aching, his thumb no longer wrapped in tape, would somehow assert himself, connecting on a floating jumper in front of the basket to tie the score. Smith would step to the free throw line 40 seconds later and sink two free throws to put UofL back in front. An absolutely critical sequence, Russ making it happen.
Not to be overlooked during the turn-around was a rare reverse layup for Stephan Van Treese.
A nice recovery by Russ after a error-plagued first half during which he had committed a career high six turnovers and connect on one of four field goal attempts. He would wind up with only 11 points and seven turnovers. He would, however, come through with five assists in the second half, three of them to Luke Hancock, and have a total of seven assists.
Hancock, feeling the Saint Louis pressure, awkward at times, kicking or turning the ball over three times. Making two of his four three-pointers, however, both of them assists from Russ Smith, at crunch time. He would, however, have three assists and three steals to his credit while scoring 21 points.
Montrezl Harrell, hoping to meet one of those offensive-minded opponents sometime during the tournament, finally getting his only basket stuffing dunk with 55 seconds left in the game, courtesy of Master Luke.
Harrell should get his wish in the Sweet 16, against either Wichita State or Kentucky.