INDIANAPOLIS, March 29, 2013 – In a game that should have been relatively easy for No. 1 seeded University of Louisville to win, the 12th seeded Oregon Ducks almost squashed Coach Rick Pitino’s Cardinals due to excessive fouling, less than sterling rebounding, and a flock of Ducks that refused to give up.
Louisville and Oregon played a lightning first half, far more so than the score at halftime would indicate. The Cardinals started off with a scoring streak at 10-3, but little by little the Ducks began to erode that lead. Oregon then gave up 10 points in two minutes, and in the first 9 minutes, Louisville led 24-8.
Then rebounding errors abound.
Oregon began to settle down and play like the hard-driving champions they have been, Coach Dana Altman’s team being at a slight disadvantage by errors in defensive rebounding. Louisville has enviable depth at every position, and when one player gets two fouls, he simply sits out awhile while another man takes his place, a luxury few teams can boast.
For the Ducks, Dominic Artis seemed unstoppable, dropping in two three-pointers in 20 seconds, while Louisville guard Russ Smith accounted for 12 points in the first half.
With nine minutes to go, the score was 31-21 with the Cardinals in the lead, their biggest lead having been 16 points. It was then that the Ducks took over and kept the boards hot, even though their shot percentage was only 40% with Louisville 52.2%.
Biggest lead was 16 points by U of L
Artis and Carlos Emory got in foul trouble, but Ware’s high-flying, twisting shots went in to fill up the slack. From a 36-26 lead, Louisville soon made it 40-29, Oregon giving up the most points it has allowed all year, despite the fine ball-handling of Arsalan Kazemi their Iranian import, who at 6’7” and 226 pounds was a force to be reckoned with.
Foul shots were valuable, and Louisville led with 17 out of 29 or 58.6% while the Ducks claimed only 40% on 12 out of 30.
As usual, guard Russ Smith had an outstanding first half, accounting for 25 points of the total scored by the Cards, while Peyton Siva only played five minutes of the first half.
Two sleepers of the Louisville team who played terrific ball were Gorgui Dieng, the score master from Senegal, and an outstanding rebounder, with ten points, and Kevin Ware from the Bronx, who filled gaps and racked up points. It was Ware who first put the Cardinals in a double-figure lead, and then had to watch it disintegrate, after he replaced Peyton Siva due to fouls. His score of four for four came when exactly needed and rescued the Cards for the time being.
Louisville led 45-31 as the first half ended.
Oregon Ducks steam back in second half
When the second half began, it was like the teams had reversed roles. Louisville couldn’t make a basket and the Ducks played as though possessed, and not by the Cardinals.
Coach Pitino called a time out when the Ducks were outscoring the Cardinals who had picked up three fouls in a matter of minutes. There were five fouls on Louisville in the first seven minutes of the half, and the spread was instantly down to 10. Even Pitino seemed taken aback, as his star guard, Smith, went out, joining Siva on the bench, and the coach stood there shaking his head. Luke Hancock brightened the scene with a well placed three-pointer, but each time someone scored, the Duck flocked bounced back.
With 5:07 to go, Louisville led by only six points and the press was on. Foul shots were exchanged by both sides, only partially successful by either one, and with three minutes left, the Cardinals decided it was time to take over, and took the game by eight points, hard to believe after a comfortable16 point lead.
For the Cardinals, Ware had 11, DIeng 10, Hancock 7, and Russ Smith topped them all with 31 points.
For the fighting Ducks, E.J. Singler had 15, Artis and Damyean Dodson each had 12, the Iranian big man, Kazemi had 11 and Carlos Emery had 10.
It took a good team to make Louisville sit up and take notice, and the Ducks proved to be that team. This is Coach Altman’s third year as their coach; he has accounted for 20 plus wins each season. In the current year, he was named by the PAC-12 Conference as “Coach of the Year.”
Louisville now goes into Round Five of the tournament, playing the Duke Blue Devils, winner of the Michigan State-Duke game, apparently on Easter Sunday evening, again at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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