The top two teams in the American Athletic Conference squared off Saturday when the Louisville Cardinals traveled to Fifth Third Arena to play the Cincinnati Bearcats in a highly anticipated rematch. This game proved to be one of the few times the game actually lived up to its billing as Russ Smith sunk the Bearcats in the titanic clash that saw Louisville take control of the driver’s seat in the AAC.
Smith delivered the late heroics and got the glory, but it was Montrezl Harrell who did the grunt work in the 58-57 win. Harrell recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds in the win that will likely springboard the Cardinals into the top 10. Smith had only 10 points and five assists in the game, but will be remembered forever in Louisville lore as he added yet another highlight to his already impressive collegiate resume.
While Louisville moves to 23-4 overall with the win, the victory was just the Cardinals’ first victory over a top 25 opponent all season. While Louisville is 22-0 against teams out of the top 25, the Cardinals are just 1-4 against such competition this year. March is approaching fast, leaving little time for the Cardinals to forge a new identity as the team tries to repeat as national champions.
The Cardinals are not as deep or as talented as a season ago, so it will be interesting to see if the team can punch above its weight class in the tournament. Louisville will continue to defeat lesser competition, but its ability to knockout a heavyweight contender in the tournament remains to be seen.
Greg Douglas is a College Basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.