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LOUISVILLE ADVANCES WITH SOME COMFORT TO SWEET SIXTEEN
Mon, 25 Mar 2013 07:09 PM EDT

Watching film of Louisville demolishing Colorado State Rams will be scary enough for anyone who has to face the Louisville over the next 2 weeks.

Hearing what coach Rick Pitino related afterward will be downright terrifying.

”We can play much better,” Pitino said. ”This is the best we have played so far at both ends of the floor. … But we will definitely get better and improve.”

It’s tough to see how.

Russ Smith scored 27 on 7-of-15 shooting, 3 other Cardinals reached double figures and top-seeded Louisville put on a defensive clinic in dismantling Rams 82-56 on Saturday.

Louisville forced the 8th-seeded Rams into a season-high 20 turnovers and outrebounded Rams 29-24 – no tiny thing considering the Colorado State came in with a nation-best plus-12 margin. Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung, the country’s best rebounding tandem, managed just 8. Greg Smith led the Rams (26-9) with 14 points while Dorian Green, who’d scored 26 against Missouri Tigers, was held to just 6 on 2-of-13 shooting. Sports scores

Louisville (31-5) will play 12th-seeded Oregon on Friday in Indianapolis. The Cardinals have won 12 straight since a 5-overtime loss to Notre Dame.

”Our preparation coming into every game needs to be sky-high,” Kevin Ware declared. ”Coach P doesn’t allow any letdowns.”

Playing Louisville and its relentless press is about as much fun as facing a very angry octopus. The Cardinals look as if they have 8 players on the floor, what with all of the arms waving and bodies smothering whoever has the bad luck to have the ball, and when one guy sits down, there’s one just as physical right there to take his place.

Few teams had much success against Louisville – there’s a reason the Cardinals are the overall No. 1 seed – but Colorado State seemed like it could have a shot. The Rams run a motion offense that’s hard to defend, grab rebounds by the dozens, and are a savvy, veteran team that does not turn the ball over. In fact, when Pitino made out his ”dangerous” list before the tournament began, Colorado State was on it.

Colorado State basically shot the ball well – 47.5 percent. The Cardinals just wouldn’t let them do it very often, limiting the Rams to 18 shots in the first half and 40 total.

They hounded Colorado State when it was inbounding the ball; the Rams had back-to-back possessions in the 1st half when they couldn’t even get the ball in play. They circled Colorado State when the Rams brought it up, with over one turnover coming on a desperation heave across midcourt to beat the whistle. And, of course, they clogged up every inch of the court where the Rams may have a view of their basket, repeatedly slapping the ball away or stepping in front of passes.

The Rams reached their season average in turnovers (11) by halftime, and topped their previous worst for the season (16) with 15:33 still to play.


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