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     “I’ve coached for… 100 years. This is the best second round opponent I’ve ever faced. This isn’t a good team. This is a great team. We’re going into the half like it’s 0-0.” These were the words of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, with his Cards up 14 going into the break. Colorado State surprised many people by hanging with Louisville for the better portion of the second half. Starting off 3/3 from downtown, the Rams made it known that they were in for a fight. In one of the most physical games of the tournament, Louisville exposed a key weakness of CSU and pressed early and often. The Rams, who only average 11 turnovers a game, had 10 turnovers at half time. The main ingredient of success for the Cards in the first half was guard Russ Smith, who finished with 27 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. With Rupp Arena painted red, the crowd was in full force for Louisville as they took to the locker room up 45-31.


     The second half began with no different story. Forcing 4 turnovers in the first three minutes, Louisville went up to a 19 point lead. With full momentum swinging in the Cards favor, clogging passing lanes and turning fast break’s into points, Pitino’s team looked like the number one overall seed the selection committee saw. Playing fantastic defense, it took a near 28 minutes for a Colorado State player to enter double digit’s in the scoring column. Up 19 with 9 minutes left, Pitino was still screaming and yelling at his players for small mistakes, not allowing his team to take the foot off the gas.


     As time began to tick, reality would set in. The Louisville Cardinals would win and move on to the sweet sixteen. On the other end, the Rams of Colorado State will pack their bags and go home. This game was a grinding, nasty, big boy basketball game. To the misfortune of CSU, Louisville controlled the tempo and demanded what they didn’t have. The Cards will face the winner of the St. Louis vs Oregon game next Friday.



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