NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Analysis: Siva Shines as Louisville Defeats WKU

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We were all wondering how the Cards would respond to their first road game and if their performance in Bowling Green is any indication, they will do just fine. The Cards came out of the gates on fire, but Western hung tough. The Cards would make a brief run, then the Toppers would answer, but WKU could only hang for so long.

With the Cards up 25-24 and just under eight minutes left in the first half, they decided WKU needed to go away. On the strength of some blazing hot outside shooting, Louisville exploded on a 32-12 run to end the half for a 57-36 halftime lead. When the second half began, the Cards picked up where they left off.

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Before five minutes were played in the second half, the Cards were up 77-45. At that point, the game was over and everyone in Diddle Arena knew it. For the remainder of the game, it was basically a clock watch.

This game was fairly shocking to me. Not because Louisville won. I very much thought they would, but because this was a demolition. Western is not as good as they have been, but I never expected Louisville, playing their first road game, to thoroughly dominate the Tops.

The shooting was ridiculous. For the game, the Cards hit 65% from the field (42-65), including 53% from deep (16-30). They got into the lane and looked for the kick out. They were great in transition and consistently beat WKU up the floor. They played extremely fast and quite frankly, did whatever they wanted, particularly in the first half.

But the reason the shooting was so good was because the Cards’ passing was great. They made the extra pass and moved the ball quickly. It sounds very simple, but it’s a real important thing to move the ball quickly because if you stop the ball, you allow the defense to catch up. When the ball continues to move, the defense has to as well. The Cards had 25 assists on 42 made field goals. You take that ratio every single time.

Speaking of passing the ball, Peyton Siva was brilliant.

Peyton’s numbers were terrific: 29 points, 8 assists, 2 steals, 8-13 shooting, 4-7 from deep, and 9-10 from the foul line.

The most encouraging part, at least to me, was the fact Peyton found his shot. Coming into the game, he was shooting 25% from the three point line, but tonight, he found his stroke. If he’s a threat from long range, it opens up the offense. Defenses have to account for him when he’s hitting. If he’s not, they can play off and clog the lane, thus eliminating Peyton’s ability to drive.

You have to hope this is the game that gets Peyton going.

Equally impressive was the play of Chris Smith. The junior transfer continues to play well and is becoming a reliable performer. Chris scored 18 points on 8-12 shooting and continued to hit the glass grabbing 6 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive end. I love the energy he brings, as well as the willingness to attack the basket. This guy is quickly shooting up my favorite players list.

Finally, it was good to see Rakeem Buckles have a solid game. Rakeem finished with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in 19 minutes of action. Like the rest of his team, the one we call ‘the Dream’

A lot to like from the Cards tonight. They improve to 10-1 on the year and welcome in Morgan State Monday night at 8:00 pm.