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Cards second half run dooms Rutgers

LOUISVILLE 68, RUTGERS 48
February 6, 2013

Piscataway, NJ

SUMMARY

Rutgers tied Louisville at 28 early in the second half. Then the Cardinals went on a 23-2 run en route to a 68-48 road win over the Scarlet Knights. The win, Louisville's third straight after losing three consecutive league games, improves the Cards record to 19-4, 7-3 in conference play.

Wayne Blackshear led Louisville with 19 points, while Russ Smith added 14 points. Peyton Siva had 9 points, 7 assists and just one turnover, and Chane Behanan finished with 8 points and 7 boards. Gorgui Dieng scored just two points but grabbed eight rebounds and blocked seven shots. Kevin Ware scored 7 points in reserve.

COACH SPEAK

“Well we’ve been lucky, we’ve done it quite a bit. I told the guys at halftime, ‘Look, it’s their pace. They play everybody tough.” They led Cincinnati for 35 minutes, they beat Pitt here, I said, “Don’t be concerned, you’ll have your run.” We made a couple of adjustments on our press and then the guys just showed some tremendous athletic ability.” - - Rick Pitino

OPPOSING VIEWPOINT

“Louisville turns it up. That’s who they are. They’re a top ten team in the country; I think they’re a final four team. But also as I looked at the shot chart, we had four missed layups in the first four minutes, and after Wally [Judge]’s missed dunk, we just had turnovers. Our guards had a couple of sloppy, careless turnovers. I thought they had the same pressure in the first half, but we were stronger. We had more of a purpose to us.” - - Mike Rice

GAME BALL

Russ Smith played a big role in Louisville's big second half run, but Wayne Blackshear played well all game. In the first half, Blackshear scored inside and out, then gave the Cards some breathing room early in the second half with a three ball and pair of free throws. When Louisville needed offense against Rutgers, Blackshear was there to provide it, making 7-11 shots and 3-5 3s.

TURNING POINT

Rutgers hung tough with Louisville for a half, trailing by just two at the break. The Scarlet Knights evened the score early in the second half. Then Louisville erased any thought of an upset with an impressive 23-2 second half run. When UofL needed to find another gear against Rutgers, they tightened the noose defensively to pull away from the Knights.

RUSS STEPS UP

Russ Smith didn't do much in the first half against Rutgers, scoring just three points. But Smith found his groove after the break, scoring 11 points in the second half, including a thunderous dunk in transition. Smith grabbed rebounds, made steals, drew contact and converted at the foul line and found his teammates for easy baskets. Despite making just 3-11 field goals, Smith didn't let cold shooting affect the rest of his game, as he delivered five rebounds, four assists, one steal with just one turnover. If you're looking for evidence of growth in Smith's game tonight provided it.

TOUGH DEFENSE

Louisville's back to play dominating defense. After allowing 50 points against Marquette Sunday, the Cards surrendered only 48 points on the road vs. Rutgers. Gorgui Dieng blocked everything at the rim, the Cards forced 16 turnovers and held Rutgers to 32 percent shooting.

KEY STAT

32.7 -- Louisville's defense was the difference in the game, holding Rutgers to only 16 of 49 shooting. The Cardinals applied relentless pressure from start to finish, wearing down the Scarlet Knights. While Dieng smothered Rutgers inside, the Cardinals also covered the Knights on the perimeter allowing just four 3s in twelve attempts.

PARTING SHOT

Louisville was a little sloppy with their first half effort against Rutgers and guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith weren't particularly effective before the break. But Smith and Siva picked up the pace in the second half and Louisville turned up their defensive pressure to fuel a 23-2 run to pull away for their 19th victory. Louisville's defense was suffocating in the second half, Gorgui Dieng demoralized the Scarlet Knights with his shot blocking, and Wayne Blackshear and Russ Smith fueled the offense. An added bonus, Kevin Ware played well in his second game back from suspension, scoring, rebounding and hustling his way to seven points and three boards. After losing three straight in late January, Louisville is now solidly back on the winning track thanks to a renewed commitment to playing tough defense.

NEXT

Louisville travels to Notre Dame to play the Irish Saturday night at 9 pm.

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