1. Not perfect but it's still a road win: The Cardinals were by no means perfect in picking up a road win in Big East Conference play. Rick Pitino was furious with the defense in the first half, while Russ Smith played one of his worst offensive games of the season and at times the team was just sloppy. But it still turned into a 15-point win on the road in conference play and it came without leading rebounder Chane Behanan, who missed the game with a sprained ankle. The Cardinals did a much better job in the second half on defense and won for a ninth consecutive game, moving to 14-1 on the season and 2-0 in conference play.
2. Nice to have Gorgui back: After sitting out a month with a broken left wrist, junior center Gorgui Dieng is getting back to normal. In his third game back in the lineup, Dieng was almost unstoppable in the first half. He finished just 4 of 10 from the field but had 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. He came up with several key loose balls and was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line. Dieng played 33 minutes, looks like he's in amazing shape and is only going to get better. Nice to have Gorgui back on the floor and looking like Gorgui.
3. Backcourt doesn't shoot it well: Peyton Siva and Russ Smith combined to go just 4 of 17 from the field but the Cardinals picked up key contributions from other positions. Smith struggled, going 2 of 11 from the field and forcing a lot of shots. He missed several close-in shots and just didn't play like the Smith we have seen all season. He finished with 11 points and six assists but had four turnovers. Pitino said the homecoming for Smith, who is from Brooklyn and played in front of a lot of family and friends, was too much pressure. While Siva didn't shoot it well, he did play a solid floor game. He had seven points, seven assists, four steals, four rebounds and only three turnovers.
4. Harrell fills in for Behanan: With Behanan sidelined, Pitino said on Tuesday it would give freshman Montrezl Harrell a good opportunity to get more quality minutes. Harrell sure took advantage against the Pirates. He played 23 minutes and hit 7 of 8 from the field, including a flying dunk late in the game. Harrell finished with 14 points and three steals. He still needs to improve his rebounding, coming up with just three boards on the night, but he's getting better and better all the time. He's going to be a good one!
5. A few other nuggets: Luke Hancock played 24 minutes and came up with two huge three-pointers in the second-half run that opened the game. He finished with seven points and is playing better and better. . . . Siva is now just 13 points away from the 1,000-point mark for his career. . . . The Cardinals hit just 41.8 percent from the field, which is the second worst shooting outing of the season. . . . But the Cardinals did hit 23 of 27 from the free-throw line, including 14 of 14 in the second half. . . . U of L had 12 steals and scored 22 points off turnovers. . . . The stretch of schedule is tough now, playing at home against South Florida on Saturday and then turning around on Monday and playing at Connecticut.