LEXINGTON, Ky., March 21, 2013 — Goliath showed up at Lexington, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena this evening, and made short work of the David-like team, 16th seeded North Carolina A & T Aggies, in a lop-sided 79-48 win. Louisville, the tournament No. 1 seed, had previously won a close game against Syracuse, while the Aggies had defeated Liberty in their opener.
Regardless of the numerical score, it must be said that the Aggies never gave up, never slowed down, and played to win, under the leadership of Coach Cy Alexander. The strength and depth of Coach Rick Pitino’s Cardinals simply out-played, out-ran and gave no quarter from the opening shot to the final buzzer. It was the running Cards at their best.
Louisville’s usual winning team of guards, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, ran circles around their opponents, Smith ending up the game’s high scorer with 23 points, only one of which was a three-pointer.
High scorer for the Aggies was 6’7” Bruce Beckford with 12 points, the only one in double figures.
Louisville took the lead early and led 18-6 in the first four minutes, the Aggies going ten minutes without a single score, until Adam Powell dropped one in.
The Cardinals were shooting 67% from the field, with Siva’s three-pointers adding to the tally, soon making it 73%.
A scary moment came when Aggie DeMetrius Upchurch, a 6’7” 210 lb. senior, came down from a shot and fell flat on the floor, his head striking the surface as well. He was out for the rest of the half, the trainers making sure he had no apparent concussion before he was allowed to return to play.
Turnovers remained a constant problem for the Aggies, who ended up with 27 as opposed to only 16 for Louisville, still too many in Coach Pitino’s playbook, to put it mildly. The Louisville team accounted for 12 offensive rebounds and 19 defensive ones, a vast improvement over the previous game.
Louisville’s all-encompassing defensive pressure never gave in, and the Cardinals led 47-31 as the first half ended, with a 67% shooting percentage. Scoring was evenly divided with eight of the nine players scoring for the Cardinals.
The second half was pretty much the same as the first with the Aggies trying to play catch-up at 21 points behind after the first six minutes.
Turnovers appeared to be their undoing, with 20 for North Carolina as opposed to 11 for Louisville. Fouls were few and far between, and fairly equally divided, with 18 for the Aggies and 13 for the Cardinals. North Carolina managed only eight steals while the faster Cardinals accounted for 20.
Louisville had almost a home floor advantage being only 70 miles from Lexington, and the stands showed a profusion of red and black from one end to the other, while the Aggies’ fans had considerably further to travel to make a showing.
The high-flying Cardinals of Louisville now go into the next round against Colorado State at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday.
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