The Morning After: U of L Survives

The Morning After is a regular feature at Cardinal Authority this season for men's basketball games. Cardinal Authority shares five thoughts from Louisville's 69-66 win over Illinois State on Saturday.

1. Improving Behanan. Sophomore Chane Behanan continues to improve and was an aggressive inside presence for the Cardinals. Behanan, who finished with a season best 15 points, connected on 7-of-8 shots from the field and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Connecting on just 1-of-7 free throw attempts, he continues to struggle significantly from the free throw line. Pitino, who described Behanan's shot as "too live," said that improving his form will remain a priority.

2. 3 Spot. Expected to be an area of strength, the small forward spot on the floor went scoreless against Illinois State, as Wayne Blackshear and Luke Hancock went a combined 0-7 from the floor. If it were a one game occurrence, one could let it slip without much notice, but it's a frequent happening, so much so that Rick Pitino labeled it as the team's probable Achilles' heel. While both are struggling offensively, they have contributed in other ways. Hancock tied a career-high with four assists and had two big offensive rebounds following missed free throws that led the key baskets for the Cardinals.

3. Stephan Van Treese. Due to two injury-plagued seasons, it was just a few months ago that Van Treese wasn't even expected to be on the Louisville roster, much less playing a critical role for a top five team. Van Treese has filled in valiantly since Gorgui Dieng was sidelined with a broken wrist. The senior from Indianapolis played 34 minutes on Saturday and put together a solid stat line of 6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, with just one turnover. He was active in chasing down loose balls, including one during the second half that led to a Behanan dunk.

4. Backcourt Scoring. The backcourt combination of Russ Smith and Peyton Siva combined for 44 points in the Cardinals win 69-66 win over Illinois State. Both totaled season-high's on Saturday, with Smith scoring 24 and Siva pouring in 20. For Smith, it was the third time in seven games that he has scored over 20 points in a game and the fifth time he's led the team in scoring. Siva's accuracy continues to strengthen, as the Big East Preseason Player of the Year has connected on 53% of his field goal attempts during the past three outings. After picking up his fourth foul midway through the second half, Siva remained aggressive and scored 10 of his points during the last nine minutes of the game.

5. Noteworty. Peyton Siva moved into a tie for 10th place with Nate Johnson for career steals with 182... Freshman Montrezl Harrell played a solid 14 minutes, hitting 2-of-3 shots and grabbing 3 rebounds… Van Treese has been nearly perfect in his last two outings, connecting on 7-of-8 from the field, while also collecting 16 rebounds… Louisville had 5 dunks, including two each from Chane Behanan and Russ Smith… Up next for U of L is a Tuesday night road contest at College of Charleston.

Cardinal Authority Top Stories