Little recovery time for Cards as Saint Louis looms (2:45 pm CBS)

Orlando SentinelMarch 22, 2014 


    Louisville vs. Saint Louis

    What: Midwest Regional at Orlando, Fla.

    When: 2:45 p.m. Saturday

    Records: No. 4 seed Louisville 30-5, No. 5 Saint Louis 27-6

    TV/radio: CBS, WHAS-AM 840


    Location: St. Louis, Mo.

    Enrollment: 13,505

    Nickname: Billikens

    School colors: Royal Blue and White

    Head coach: Jim Crews (55-13 in second season at St. Louis; 409-361 in 26th year overall)

    Conference: Atlantic-10 (Saint Louis won the regular-season championship, then lost to St. Bonaventure in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.)

    All-time series: Louisville leads 45-20

    Last meeting: Louisville won 84-66 on Feb. 20, 2005, at Louisville.


    UL SLU

    Record 30-5 27-6

    PPG 81.8 70.0

    Opp. PPG 61.1 61.2

    FG pct. .471 .443

    Opp. FG pct. .395 .399

    3FG pct. .370 .319

    Opp. 3FG pct. .294 .284

    3FG/game 7.9 5.7

    Opp. 3FG/game 4.7 4.0

    FT pct. .663 .708

    Rebound margin 3.2 1.8

    Turnover margin 7.0 1.6

    Steals/game 10.1 7.4

    Blocks/game 4.7 4.2

In the world of college basketball, there's a quick turnaround when it comes to emotions.

No. 4 seed Louisville (30-5, 15-3 in AAC) survived a poor shooting night, hanging on to defeat No. 13 seed Manhattan College, 70-64, in second-round NCAA Tournament action that started late Thursday and didn't end until early Friday morning. The victory was an emotional one for Rick Pitino because it came at the expense of one of his close friends in Jaspers coach Steve Masiello.

But there's little time for the Cardinals coach to reflect on the win with a third-round matchup against No. 5 seed Saint Louis (27-6, 13-3 in A-10) on Saturday at the Amway Center.

"The coaches — we've had literally two and a half to three hours sleep," a bleary-eyed Pitino said Friday. "We watched film and got up early and watched more film, but we're on such adrenaline, we don't need 5-hour Energy to stay up."

The challenge of bouncing back from an emotional win didn't concern the Hall of Fame coach.

"I think that's the easy part," Pitino said. "We've been to two straight Final Fours, and we played four games in the Big East Tournament championship last year and now this year with the AAC.

"So we bounce back quickly."

Emotions also ran high for Louisville guard Russ Smith, whose relationship with Masiello is well-documented. Facing off against his old friend took a toll on the senior. "I was pretty exhausted — mentally exhausted," said Smith. "I was tired, but I couldn't go to bed. That shows you just how exhausted I was."

Smith led Cardinals in scoring with 18 points against the Jaspers despite shooting a dismal 33 percent from the field. It was the second-lowest shooting percentage of the season for the all-American, who shot 30 percent against Cincinnati on Feb. 22.

Afterwards, Masiello took a few moments to catch up with Smith.

"He was very thankful for me and happy for me," Smith said of Masiello after the game. "I'm just happy to have met a gentleman like that and to have a gentleman like that in my life. He's meant so much to me."

Louisville's next opponent — Saint Louis — survived an emotional roller-coaster ride of its own. The Billikens rallied from a 16-point deficit late in the second half to top No. 12 seed NC State 83-80 in overtime Thursday.

"I mean, the locker room was wild after the game, after a comeback like that," Saint Louis forward Dwayne Evans said. "You can't help but just go crazy, but that was for last night, and as of this morning when we all woke up, it was onto business for Louisville."

Jim Crews, the Billikens' coach, said his team doesn't get too excited or emotional after wins and losses.

"They're excited, don't get me wrong," said Crews. "But they don't get way up high and get crazy and when we lose they don't get way down and get depressed.

"We know we have a huge test in front of us tomorrow afternoon, and they're a really talented team, so guys did a really good job of getting focused this morning, and we'll meet again tonight and we'll be ready."

Smith was impressed with Saint Louis' tenacity.

"You have to respect a team that's willing to fight all the way to the end," he said.

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