Dieng. Ying. Yang. Jheng. DANG. Gorgui Dieng, a freshman, pulled down six offensive rebounds and picked & rolled his way to a double-double against a stronger, more experienced Connecticut front court and Louisville again made Kemba Walker look average down the stretch in a 71-58 win in the KFC Yum! Center.
Terrence Jennings had to watch Gorgui from the bench in the second half after getting into foul trouble, but the junior center jump-started the Cardinal offense in the first half, scoring 8 of the Cards' first 10 points. But the biggest story of the game was Peyton Siva outplaying National Player of the Year candidate Kemba Walker. Again.
Siva showed his performance in Storrs this January was no fluke. In front of several NBA scouts, UConn's matador defense made the smallest player on the court look like its biggest star Friday night. Siva obliged by driving and dishing for 15 points, 4 assists and 6 steals--one more steal than UConn's entire team. When Siva is "on," Louisville is a legit threat to beat any team this year.
The technical foul called on Preston Knowles for egging on the pep band and student section's "bullshit" chant will be debated tomorrow--and it was a head-scratching decision by the ref--but even the sanctimonious codger Bob Knight thought it was laughable and that's good enough for me.
After the game, Pitino quipped that if the Cards had lost, Preston would be in the band. I assume he'd play the crash cymbals, the exclamation point of chamber music, but could also see him rocking a drum kit.
One thing that wasn't cymbal-worthy was Preston's range. Knowles had another off night from the field, making only 2 of 13 field goals, but his 7 assists and second-half steal kept the Huskies at arm's length down the stretch. A true percussionist respects his xylophone (flashy jumper) and triangle (fundamentals) without bias.
Kyle Kuric also struggled to find his shot in the first half, but his back-to-back threes sacked a 9-0 UConn run at the start of the second half and gave the Cards a 5 point lead--a margin the Huskies never threatened throughout the remainder of the game.
Great way start to the weekend. Next up: Rutgers at the RAC on Tuesday.