The KFC Yum! Center was packed for the white-out game between the Louisville Cardinals and the Marquette Golden Eagles. Coach Rick Pitino was dressed in his famous white suit and his Cardinals came ready to play, winning with ease.
Louisville really needed this win to make a climb up the Big East standings and the college basketball rankings. Today’s 70-51 win should knocked them back up the polls Monday since four of the top 10 were beaten on Saturday.
The Cardinals looked like a complete team against Marquette on both sides of the floor. Eight out of the 10 players who played got at least one rebound and eight out of the 10 made a point. Louisville won the battle of the boards, 38-26. Louisville is known for having a very good defense, but today they showed they can bring intensity on offense as well as the shot over 51-percent from the floor.
Russ Smith once again led Louisville in scoring with with 18 points, adding five rebounds, three assists and two steals. This was the best complete game the Russ has played all season, giving up just one turnover. He seemed very comfortable in his role today and did not force too many shots.
One of the most interesting and most effective lineups Pitino put in place today was having freshman Montrel Harrell and Stephen Van Treese in at the same time. Both players came off the bench and gave the Cardinals a lot of energy. Harrell played 16 minutes and had six points, six rebounds and one steal. Van Treese added four points and three rebounds in just 15 minutes. If these two can continue to play well and give Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan rest, this team could be very dangerous heading into March.
Louisville had the three game losing streak last month and many started to question if they were as good as first thought at the beginning of the season. But today they proved they belong on the list of elite teams this season. With one of the best back courts in the country with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, along with an underrated front court, this is a team that has every tool they need to win it all.
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