With 45 points from its starting backcourt, No. 2 Louisville survived a tough test against Illinois State Saturday at the KFC Yum Center. Russ Smith had 25 and Peyton Siva scored 20 in Louisville's 69-66 win.
UNO Louisville started slowly. After a jumper by Chane Behanan tipped off the scoring at the 19:21 mark, Illinois State scored the next 14 points. After the first 10 straight points, a run-out dunk prompted a timeout by Rick Pitino at the 13:42 mark. Even after the timeout, and Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael got a rebound putback with just under 13 minutes left. Louisville didn't score again until the 12:06 mark when Smith stole a pass and sprinted down court for a dunk.
The Cardinals missed their first six three point attempts and seven of their first eight shots before Smith's slam. Illinois State wasn't done, they got a three and a run-out layup put them up 19-6 at the 11 minute mark.
Louisville was still down 31-20 at the four minute mark, but cut the margin to 31-25 with two minutes left before halftime. A pair of free throws by Tyler Brown pushed the margin back to eight, and UofL didn't score the rest of the half.
DOS Illinois State's Charmichael and Brown scored 27 of the Redbirds' 33 points. Charmichael, a 6-9 senior from Manhattan, Ks., and Brown, a 6-4 guard from Owensboro, Ky., gave the Cardinals with their athleticism.
Check out this stat: Illinois State his 11 of 12 shots from inside the arc in the first half. Their 2 of 11 outside shooting lowered their shooting percentage to 58.3 percent. Charmichael and Brown hit 11 of 15 shots. One more stat: the RedBirds got 0 points from their bench in the first half.
TRES Louisville came back starting at the 19 minute mark of the second half. Down 35-28, a three by Russ Smith, a dunk by Chane Behanan and a steal and layup by Peyton Siva tied the score at 35-35. The Cardinals pulled ahead 37-35 at the 16:32 mark on an up-and-under layup by Behanan.
Illinois State regained the lead at 41-37 with a quick 7-0 run, and continued to hold a lead until nearly the six minute mark.
CUATRO Siva picked up his fourth foul with 13:10 remaining, going to the bench until the mark. He had just hit a three to cut Illinois State's lead to 45-43. Without Siva in the lineup the Cardinals continued to trail, falling behind 57-51 by the time he re-entered the game. Siva, after sitting for five minutes of game clock, hit a three just two possessions after coming back into the game.
Louisville took a 58-57 lead with 6:03 left on a jumper by Behanan. The Cardinals forced an Illinois State timeout on the ensuing inbounds play and the crowd at the KFC Yum! Center stood and applauded to the music during the timeout.
Louisville was up 60-57, but Illinois State regained the lead with a bankshot in the paint with 4:21 left. Another three by Siva put Louisville back in the lead 63-61 with just over four minutes left. A driving layup by Siva put Louisville up 67-63 with just over two minutes left.
Siva, who finished with 20 points, hit two free throws with 18.4 seconds left to put Louisville up 69-66.
CINCO As good as Siva was, Russ Smith continues to lead Louisville in scoring. He finished the Illinois State game with 24 points including 11 of 14 from the foul line.