Monday was a great day for the Louisville Cardinals. Not only did they become the third different team of the 2012-2013 season to claim the number-one ranking in the nation, but they played like kings, outscoring the Connecticut Huskies 45-24 in the second half, to notch a 15-point road win.
Russ Smith led the Cardinals in scoring – per usual – but seemed to be suffering from leg cramps in the second half, which when combined with Peyton Siva’s foul-plagued game left Louisville needing more from it’s front court. Which didn’t wind up to be much of a problem for the Cards.
Junior center Gorgui Dieng matched a career-high with 16 rebounds, while Chane Behanan added 16 points and 9 rebounds to add to the dominant performance against one of the smallest teams in the nation. Not only did Louisville win the battle on the glass 33-25, but they outscored their opponents 44-20 in the paint, not to mention outscoring them 14-6 on second chance points.
After being down 34-28 after the first half, Rick Pitino cracked the whip, as the Louisville defense was in top form for the final 20 minutes of the game. UConn was held without a field goal for a nine-minute stretch in the half, in which they committed seven turnovers in the first 11 minutes of, matching their total first half output.
The Cardinals also picked up their offense, shooting 60-percent from the field for the half.
Despite freshman Omar Calhoun’s second 20-point effort of his career, the Huskies terrific back court came up short against Siva and Smith, and there was no way that DeAndre Daniels and Tyler Olander were stopping Dieng and Behanan from dominating up front.
Number one team doing what number one teams do.
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