The Cards came out shooting Monday night and had their best offensive output since putting up 83 points against Tennessee-Martin in the season opener as they moved to 6-0.
Chris Smith led the way for the Cards against the LBSU 49ers with 18 points and shot 4-of-6 from three-point range. Kyle Kuric had been leading the Cards offense through the last couple of games, but struggled to find his stroke offensively.
The Cards spread the offensive load and five players reached double digits in points. Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan both started for the undermanned Cards and scored 11 and 13 respectively. With Stephan Van Treese and Elisha Justice joining the unavailable, with injuries suffered in the past week, Jared Swopshire and Russ Smith carried the load off the bench. Swop scored 10 pooints off the bench and picked up four offensive boards. Russ scored 11 and pushed the ball in transition while he was in the game.
The Cards did a great job of pressuring the 49ers and getting out and running off of turnovers. The Cards racked up 14 steals to Long Beach State’s four and only turned the ball over 11 times to the 49er’s 21.
Siva had a rough game in the turnover department, giving the ball up six times and struggled to stay in the game battling foul trouble all night. Even though Siva had a frustrating night the Louisville point guard was able to pick up five assists and five steals to go with his 11 points.
Siva was not the only Cardinal to deal with foul trouble. Gorgui Dieng fouled out after scoring nine and picking up eight boards and Russ and Kuric also had four fouls each.
With the foul trouble that the Cards faced Rick Pitino was constantly shuffling the shorthanded lineup and making switches.
The Cards had struggled some to convert at the free throw line in the last few games, but put it together and took advantage of getting to the line 26 times by sinking 20 free throws.
Casper Ware, LBSU’s leading scorer had a frustrating night before he got it going late in the second half. Ware had to deal with the Cards pressure all night and listened to the chants of the UofL student section chanting “air-ball” every time he touched the ball after a first half miss.
Despite being out rebounded by LBSU the Cards converted on the offensive end and played strong defense. The Cards showed a lot of intensity in this one and after looking sluggish on offense in the past couple of games put together a complete game and looked sharp for most of it on offense.
The defense has been there all year, but it looks like maybe the Cards are turning the corner on offense in time for Friday’s match up with Vandy.
Rakeem Buckles was dressed and on the court for warm-ups as he looks to get back in the lineup and add some size and rebounding to the Cards front court.
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