INDIANAPOLIS — Some quick notes from Louisville’s 77-69 win over Oregon in the Midwest Region semifinals tonight at Lucas Oil Stadium.
* The Cards were hacking and coughing before, during and after the game. Coach Rick Pitino (facetiously?) blamed the predicament on Russ Smith infecting his teammates, but Smith played through the illness to score a game-high 31 points.
* In three NCAA Tournament games so far, Smith has scored 81 points. He scored 23 points against North Carolina A&T, 27 against Colorado State and matched his career-high with 31 against Oregon.
* Pitino on Smith: “I mean, as an ex-pro guy, I look at him and say colleges today is much more physical than the pros. When you watch the pros today, they go right away, hand check or anything like that. And Russ is able to get to the foul line, get a shot off, make the play, turn around and guard. I’d have him in the top twelve in the draft because of the way his game transcends to the next level.
“I’m very happy that everybody’s missing the boat because I’ll have him for another year. But I really, I really can’t believe what I’m reading sometimes of this kid, because he’s‑‑ to me, I thought he was a runaway Player of the Year. Runaway. And that’s no knock on the other guys, because they’re great too.”
* Kevin Ware gave the Cards a huge lift off the bench with 11 points and just one turnover in 25 minutes. Ware logged so much time because starter Peyton Siva battled foul trouble (and his cold) for just 19 minutes, scoring four points.
* Louisville averaged 1.127 points per possession, its lowest total in the three NCAA Tournament games. The Cards averaged 1.138 against North Carolina A&T and 1.311 against Colorado State.
* Louisville has shot a combined 55.9 percent in the three NCAA Tournament games.
* Oregon averaged 0.999 points per possession, best of Louisville’s three NCAA foes so far. North Carolina A&T averaged 0.719. Colorado State averaged 0.889.
* Pitino: “Our defense was porous at best and that’s what’s carried us.”
* Arsalan Kazemi grabbed 12 rebounds for Oregon to end up with 45 rebounds in three NCAA Tournament games.
* Pitino is now 11-0 in NCAA Sweet 16 games. He is 6-4 in Elite Eight games.
* Louisville is in its second consecutive Elite Eight and its fourth in the past six seasons.
* Louisville has won 13 straight games and with Kansas’ overtime loss to Michigan is the only No. 1 seed remaining in the tournament.
* With all the talk about turnovers, Oregon turned it over 12 times, compared to 13 for Louisville. The Ducks had turned it over a combined 36 times in their first two NCAA games. Oregon turned it over just 17.4 percent of its possessions, far lower than its 24.7 against Oklahoma State and 25.9 against Saint Louis.
* Oregon coach Dana Altman: “Their team speed, in the first half, got (us) off to a bad start. They got some transition baskets easy. Second‑chance opportunities. I know they had six points on put‑backs very early in the ball game. And it just set a bad tone.
Obviously, that pick on the top of the circle there with Smith bringing it at us, we just didn’t contain his speed. He got by us and powered some into the rim. We went small.
“Typically, Tony (Woods) would block a few of those. I didn’t think Tony was having one of his better games, so I decided to go small. I don’t know if‑‑ if the guys got that recommendation, they probably wouldn’t have won 32 ball games.
“So I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that. Russ Smith is a talented young man. They’ve got a lot of talented players. When he got going, we didn’t have an answer.”
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