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Louisville Beats Scrappy USF 86-77

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Louisville got all they could handle from South Florida, but got enough down the stretch to secure their second Big East win and first win outside the state of Kentucky. Rick Pitino went with a bigger lineup to match-up with South Florida’s size and the combination of Stephan Van Treese and Gorgui Dieng delivered. 

SVT had a breakout performance with 12 points and 14 rebounds, including 9 offensive boards. Offensively, he is still essentially a garbage basket/putback dunk type player, but he doesn’t need to score. His job to be a factor on the glass and he came through. In his last two games, SVT has grabbed 24 rebounds.  

At the center spot, Gorgui Dieng continues to impress. He is the only post player withpost moves for the Cards and today, he displayed a smooth turnaround jumper. The one we call Gorgeous finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 more blocks. Gorgui has already established himself has a premier shot blocker. Heading into the game, Gorgui was averaging 2.5 blocks per game. That number will go up after his 5 against USF.

A post presence is critical for Louisville.

We saw against Kentucky what happens when the Cards completely neglect the post and/or have the post taken away from them: they lose. Louisville does not necessarily need to have a big scoring threat in the paint. Some of their best possessions today came off entering the ball into the paint and the big either reversed the ball or kicked it back out.

In short, the ball kept moving for the most part and didn’t get into the dreaded black hole mode.

And speaking of post players, Terrence Jennings showed some flashes today. He continued to underwhelm on the glass, only 2 rebounds in 13 minutes, but both were offensive boards and he showed more activity. TJ did run the floor more consistently and got a few easy baskets as a result of it.

Also, how about George Goode? Once again, George comes in the game and does something positive. He only played 7 minutes, but during that time, George buried two threes and had an assist. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love George Goode.

Another thing that I liked today was the free-throw shooting.

The Cards hit on 23-26 from the line, good for 89%. Gorgui, Preston Knowles, Chris Smith, and Terrence Jennings combined to shoot 17-17 at the charity stripe. The only misses came from Peyton Siva, who shot 6-8, which isn’t bad, and SVT, who is just a poor free throw shooter.

I realize the Sun Dome is not exactly a strong home court advantage, but to shoot 89% at the free throw line on the road is significant. It will be interesting to see how the Cards shoot free throws as they progress in the Big East and play in more hostile environments.

Finally, Louisville’s passing and ball movement was very good. The Cards tallied 21 assists on 27 made field goals, which is a fantastic ratio. Peyton Siva led the Cards with 6 assists, to go with his 9 points, and only 2 turnovers. Mike Marra, who has had two strait pretty good games, added 4 assists, to go with his 11 points. In total, 9 Louisville players recorded assists.

It wasn’t the prettiest game, but again, the Cards won, which is most important. They improve to 13-2 and 2-0 in Big East play. They will now face a truly difficult test on Wednesday night as they travel to face 7th ranked Villanova, coached by the best dressed coach in America, Jay Wright.

Time for some quick thoughts:

-I’m still waiting for Kyle Kuric to show some more assertiveness. It really seems to me Kyle is the only guy who doesn’t realize how good he can be. Of all the guys on the team, I would be just fine with Kyle taking a few ill-advised shots just to show some aggressiveness.

-Louisville is now 105-7 under Rick Pitino when they score 80+ points, which makes you wonder why they wouldn’t just score 80 points every game.

-I mentioned this on Twitter during the game, but one of the few good things about playing at USF is the fact you can pretty much hear everything Rick Pitino says. Slick Rick says some goofy things during games.

-When George Goode hit those threes, I was reminded of an interview after George either signed or committed to Louisville in which someone, who shall remain nameless, compared his game to, wait for it, Kevin Durant. Somewhere, that guy is telling everyone ‘I told you so.’ Also, somewhere, that guy is still not too bright.

-I love Bob Wenzel’s enthusiasm, anytime a guy is genuinely excited by a Sunday noon USF basketball game, but sometimes I think he just talks and has no clue what he says. Come to think of it, isn’t that what Dick Vitale gets paid a lot of money for?

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