Analysis: Hot-shooting Cards sink Irish

Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva powered Louisville past Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament semifinals, but it was reserve Russ Smith who sparked the Cardinals with his defensive pressure. examines the Cardinals rout of the Irish.

Louisville (25-9) rolled through Notre Dame 64-50 Friday night in the Big East semifinals to advance to Saturday's championship game against Cincinnati, who upset Syracuse. Peyton Siva was outstanding again and Gorgui Dieng dominated inside for the Cardinals. Here's instant analysis of the game:

Gorgui Dieng didn't miss Friday night against the Irish.
IT WAS OVER WHEN: Louisville held Notre Dame without a field goal for the final 12:40 of the first half. The Cardinals built a 35-19 halftime lead, increased the lead to 24 after the break and rolled into Saturday's championship game for the third time in four seasons.

KEY STATS: 56 and 11.8
Louisville won't lose too many games when they shoot 56 percent from the fioor and that's exactly what they did against Notre Dame. The Cardinals, who dished 20 assists, made 28-50 shots against the Irish, including 5-15 threes. Louisville also played stingy defense, limiting Notre Dame to just 2-17 from beyond the arch. The Cardinals were active defensively and bothered Notre Dame with their pressure defense, forcing 12 turnovers (six steals), while blocking four shots.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng share honors Friday night. Siva again played lights out for the Cardinals, nearly going for a triple double against Notre Dame. The junior point guard finished with 13 points, 9 assists and eight rebounds. While Siva filled the stat sheet, Dieng couldn't be stopped inside, connecting on all 8 of his field goals. The promising sophomore finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds and blocked a shot.

BIG PLAY: Russ Smith's two first half steals within eight seconds sparked Louisville's 22-4 run before the break. Those two big plays flipped momentum as Louisville seized control for the final 30 minutes of the semifinals against the Irish.

TURNING POINT: The turning point came during a :20 second span midway through the first half. Notre Dame jumped out to a 15-9 lead and seemed to have control. But Louisville scored six straight points in a matter of seconds to tie the game, then closed the half on a 20-4 run. Two big steals and assists from Russ Smith sparked the quick spurt for the Cards.

TOP RESERVE Russ Smith didn't score a lot, but he sparked Louisville's big run to end the first half. Smith applied relentless on-ball defensive pressure against the Irish and came up with three big steals. More importantly, Smith found his teammates for easy baskets and finished with five assists with only three turnovers. Smith also knocked down a three-pointer late in the game after the Irish whittled Louisville's 24 point lead down to 16.

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