The Louisville Cardinals have been one of the hottest teams in the 2013 NCAA Tournament to start and the main reason behind that has been the production and play of junior guard Russ Smith.
Now, in a one-and-done format, that change change with the snap of a finger, but heading into the Cardinals’ Sweet 16 contest with Oregon, the question must be asked — can anyone slow down Smith?
After scoring 23 points in 25 minutes of action in the Cardinals’ second round victory over North Carolina A&T, Smith followed that performance by scoring 27 points in 32 minutes of action against Colorado State. So there you have it, Smith is averaging 25 points per game in 28.5 minutes per game. That’s remarkable.
Smith’s production has taken any pressure off of senior point guard Peyton Siva on the offensive end, which has allowed Siva to be more effective as a leader. In fact, Siva has scored 16 points this tournament on 21 shots, so we will see if Oregon looks to flip the pressure back on Siva to score the basketball and take more shots.
As for Smith however, his strides have simply been incredible. He averaged two points per game as a freshman before becoming more of a legitimate threat as a sophomore in 20112. Now Smith is averaging over 18 points per game on the season and we know what production he has had in the first two postseason games here in March.
Oregon will need to find a combination on the defensive end with Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Johnathan Loyd because Louisville knows they have the advantage in the back court and that they must take advantage of it.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS