When the 3rd ranked University of Louisville Cardinals (14-1, 2-0) traveled to Newark, New Jersey for Wednesday’s Big East Conference game against the Seton Hall Pirates (12-4, 1-2), they went into battle without the injured Chane Behanan who suffered a high ankle sprain in Monday’s practice. Stepping into the starting line up was Montrezl Harrell who stepped up big time and the Cards left with a 73-58 road victory.
The game began with Peyton Siva’s fast break dunk and Gorgui Dieng’s 10 footer from the free throw line, exactly the opposite of what you would expect from your point guard and your center, but it worked. Meanwhile the Pirates game plan consisted of shooting the three and hoping for the best. And when Louisville guarded against the triple, they wanted to get it inside against the Cardinal zone.
That style of play proved problematic for Seton Hall because they were ice cold from the arc and they had to contend with Dieng, Harrell and Stephen Van Treese on defense down low. Eugene Teague, their best post player, spent a significant amount of time on the bench in the first half even though he wasn’t in foul trouble. He became a factor later in the game.
The Cards pressed, but it seemed like a light one, almost token, which enabled the Pirates to take better control of the ball than most opponents. Louisville turned it up, but they clearly missed Behanan’s defensive intensity. When the half court defense went from zone to man-to-man, UofL started to create some separation.
Louisville’s first half foul trouble kept Seton Hall in the game while Wayne Blackshear and Van Treese handled bench warming duties. On the other side, ball handler Tom Maayan and Kyle Smith did the same for the Pirates. At the end of the first half, the 36-34 Louisville lead left Seton Hall feeling pretty good about themselves on their home court.
After the break, it took 3 and a half minutes for either team to score with sloppy offense and defense on both sides. Eventually a quick 4 points from reserve Kevin Ware got the scoring going again. As the game continued to play out, Louisville’s athleticism and depth wore down the Pirates. You could see fatigue set in as Seton Hall’s shots came up short and the turnovers mounted. Meanwhile the first half Cardinal foul trouble didn’t factor in at all in the second half.
So on a rough shooting night for Blackshear (8 points), Siva (7 points) and Russ Smith (11 points), plus the absence of Behanan, the Cards still got the job done thanks to Dieng’s double-double: 16 points and 14 rebounds. Harrell finished the game with impressive slam dunks and 14 points.
Louisville comes home to the KFC Yum! Center this Saturday for a Big East matchup against South Florida at 4pm.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton