The Cards returned home to face Arkansas State Tuesday and won a sloppy game with the Red Wolves 54-27.
The whistles blew constantly in a game that seemed to move extremely slowly. Both teams were in the bonus early and neither team took advantage at the free-throw line.
The Cards were with out point guard Peyton Siva for the second game and missed their point guard on offense. The guards couldn’t connect with the post turning over passes to the inside and giving low and out of rhythm feeds to the bigs.
Kyle Kuric picked up the slack and held it together for the Cards with a game high 12 points and provided steady ball handling and hustle. Russ Smith saw significant minutes both running the point and playing the two alongside Elisha Justice. Neither guard flourished in the offense, but Smith hit all three three-pointers that he attempted and Justice was able to get into the lane a number of times and score at the cup.
While the Cards as a team did not shoot their free-throws well, Gorgui Dieng showed a steady stroke and put in all four of his attempts. Dieng scored 10 points and picked up four blocks, including a first half block that landed somewhere between the three point arc and mid court.
Chane Behanan had an up and down game. The young forward picked up some big rebounds and scored off of the offensive glass, but let a number of passes slip through his hands and had trouble converting on a number of offensive possessions. Stephan Van Treese got some minutes and spelled Dieng and Behanan after the two starters picked up their second fouls in the first half.
Arkansas State couldn’t find any offense. The Red Wolves scored 12 points in the first half and put up 15 in the second. Marcus Hooten scored seven points to lead the squad, but they were just 10-of-41 from the field and only 6-of-18 from the free-throw line. The Cards full court pressure was successful at times in the first half in turning the ball over and the Red Wolves did not look comfortable all game handling the ball.
On Saturday at Butler the Cards struggled to inbound the ball on the offensive baseline and had some of the same problems again Tuesday. Luckily for the Cards there were a ton of fouls and turnovers that allowed them to practice.
Just about everyone got significant run Tuesday as Rick Pitino mixed up the lineups and gave Tim Henderson, Angel Nunez and Zach Price some valuable minutes. Each reserve got in the scoring column, with Zach Price getting his two points on a fast break dunk inside the final minute of the game.
The next game is Friday against Ohio. StraitCards will preview the match up this week.