Louisville needed a win at Pittsburgh Saturday night and delivered one of their best performances of the season in a 73-62 win over the struggling Panthers.
Louisville needed a win at struggling Pittsburgh and delivered one of the best performances this season, shooting 55 percent from the floor, out rebounding the Panthers, and out-scoring Pitt by 14 at the foul line. Ball movement was much better, evidenced by 17 assists, 7 by Peyton Siva.
The only negative tonight were the 17 turnovers, 10 from Siva and Russ Smith.
Though Peyton Siva picked up three first half fouls for reaching, the junior played one of his better halves this season after the break. Siva seemed to have a more explosive burst tonight driving the lane and elevated higher than he has this season on a breakaway dunk. Siva also knocked in a midrange jumper, something he needs to continue. Big effort from Siva.
Kyle Kuric looked rested after missing the past two games with a high ankle sprain and responded with a game-high 21 points off the bench. Kuric's big first half gave Louisville a much needed dose of confidence early in the game in a tough road environment.
Chane Behanan was sensational on the low block, finished with 19 big points. His play after the break helped guide Louisville to a big road win.
The key to the game for Louisville was the backboard and Gorgui Dieng was dominant on the boards, hauling down 14. The 6'11 sophomore also scored 13 points and blocked five shots and was the major reason the Cardinals were able to out-rebound one of the top rebounding teams in college basketball.
It's clear depth is going to be a major issue for Louisville going forward. Freshmen Zach Price and Kevin Ware played briefly in the first half, but the bulk of the minutes for Louisville went to seven players. Unless Wayne Blackshear and Stephen Van Treese return to action, Pitino won't have the luxury of a deep bench the rest of the season. Injuries to Blackshear, Van Treese, Rakeem Buckles and Mike Marra has depleted Pitino's once deep rotation.
Now at 15-5 and 3-4 in the Big East, Louisville will play three of the next four games at home against Villanova, Rutgers and UConn, while hitting the road next week to Seton Hall. That four game stretch will be critical to Louisville's NCAA Tournament hopes. Rick Pitino said this week his team's goal is to win their final seven home games. Three of those games come in the next two weeks.