NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Analysis: Siva Leads Louisville Past St. John’s

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St. John’s is vastly improved from last season and seeing as how the Johnnies beat down the Cards last year, you figured this game would be a hard fought, close contest.

Not so much.

Louisville blitzed St. John’s from the jump and didn’t let up for the duration of the contest. Preston Knowles led the Cards again with 25 points and Kyle Kuric added 20 off the bench. Kuric’s three pointers early on really seemed to energize the team, and fans for that matter.

The Cards did a lot of great things tonight. They shot the ball extremely well from the field at 53%, highlighted by a ridiculous 13-26 from three point range. Once again, the main reason for the good shooting was the fantastic passing. Of their 33 made field goals, Louisville dished out 24 assists.

Defensively, the Cards did get outrebounded 29-27, but the key to this game was the fact Louisville forced 25 St. John’s turnovers. To paraphrase the great Jim Mora, I don’t care who you play, but if you turn the ball over 25 times on the road, you aren’t going to beat anybody. For the game, the Cards recorded 13 steals.

Turnovers were definitely one of the big factors in Louisville’s victory, but I thought just as big of a factor was the play of Peyton Siva.

Peyton had a simply terrible game against Marquette, but he bounced back in a huge way tonight. Peyton played fast, but not out of control. He attacked, but pulled it out when nothing was there. In a nutshell, he made very good decisions. On the night, Peyton scored 10 points, dished out 10 assists, and was extremely active defensively with 7 steals. This is the type of performance that should end any sort of debate as to who is the best point guard on the team.

The truly exciting part about watching Peyton play tonight was knowing he’s capable of this every game. I’m not saying he should average 10 assists and 7 steals each night, but I do honestly believe Peyton has the ability to make this much of an impact each time out. If he continues to make good decisions and play within himself as he did tonight, the Cards will be just fine.

Going into the game, there were concerns about the post play as it became known Terrence Jennings would probably miss the game because of a hip pointer. Well, I’d say the post combination of Gorgui Dieng and George Goode did just fine.

Gorgui started again and like he has for most of the year, showed glimpses as to the type of force he will become. Gorgui decided to break out his away from the basket game and hit several jumpers. Defensively, he quickly established himself in the post and it didn’t take too long for St. John’s to start shooting a bit higher when they got in the lane.

Gorgui played 25 minutes and finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 nice assists.

We knew Gorgui couldn’t play the whole game, so George Goode was going to have to produce. No problem. Once again, George came in and did some work. George played 19 minutes, which has to be a career high, and scored 8 points on 4-8 shooting. He also grabbed a couple boards, had a nice pass for an assist, and recorded a steal and block.

**Obligatory statement of post-game recap** I love George Goode

Quick thoughts:

-Is it just me, or did Preston Knowles have a rather quiet 25 points? He took 17 shots, including 12 threes, but it was as if all of a sudden in the 2nd half, he had 20 points and I had no clue how it happened. Whatever the case, Preston is in prime position for one of the best senior seasons in recent Louisville history.

-We received quite a scare late when Stephan Van Treese went down with what appeared to be a very serious injury to his left knee. Fortunately, SVT only suffered cramps in both legs. He should be just fine. He has to be, the Cards literally have no more power forwards.

-Speaking of power forwards, there was some disappointing news concerning Rakeem Buckles. The sophomore from Miami is not progressing as the Louisville coaching staff had hoped and it appears he will be out around three more weeks. Stupid injuries.

-We often joke about Steve Lavin’s hair, but it’s nowhere near as outstanding as it was while he was at UCLA. It’s okay, never fear, Gene Keady is picking up the slack. There’s just no way that man, who is Lavin’s Director of Basketball Operations, still thinks it’s a good look to wear his hair like that. Just no way.

-The win tonight was a good RPI win. Going into the game, St. John’s was ranked 12th in the RPI, so while the Johnnies didn’t pass the eye test, this should be a win the computers will like.

The Cards have to get over this win and get ready because they travel to face Providence on Saturday. That probably sounds odd because the Friars are pretty close to terrible, but they are hungry for a conference win and have a week to get ready for Louisville.

We’ll get you up to speed on that contest in a few days.