Here are a few key points to take from last night's 104-52 win by Louisville over Rutgers at the KFC Yum! Center.
1. The defense and communication make a difference: Remember a few weeks ago, we told you the communication wasn't there for this team. Well, that might be the biggest change. Sure, they're playing better defense and have more intensity. But they are also talking. It's as simple as that, Luke Hancock telling guys where to go, Russ Smith and Terry Rozier saying screen and switch, Stephan Van Treese showing some leadership in the middle. It's still not like having Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng back there on defense, running things, but it's what they've got this season and it's working now.
2. No Shave Until Dallas? So, the 'beard' thing doesn't mean anything when it comes to wins and losses really. The Cards won't shave until they lose another game and Rick Pitino put it out there that "if you are worth any grain of salt, all of you would join in," to members of the media. It's fun and it keeps the guys loose, but it won't win or lose games. It is amazing how the guys on this team love this idea though, all playing with each other on who is going to have the best beard and who can't even get one going.
3. Shooting cures all ills: Sure, the Cardinals don't have a ton of size and they lack a quality big man. But when the Cardinals shoot the ball like they have been, it overcomes any negatives you might see with the lineup. On Sunday, U of L was 34 of 61 and 16 of 30 on three-pointers. The Cardinals are 13-0 this season and 116-6 during Rick Pitino's tenure with the Cardinals when shooting over 50 percent from the field. Not a bad stat.
4. Terry Rozier and the lack of turnovers: I sure hope I don't jinx Terry Rozier but 14 turnovers in 25 games - 19.6 minutes a game - for a freshman is ridiculous. He's so smooth with the ball and doesn't get caught up in the up and down tempo or going out of control. He keeps his head up and he stays out of trouble, always thinking ahead. He's already really good and is going to be so special.
5. A few leftovers: U of L has now won nine games by 30 or more points and lead the nation in scoring margin. . . . The Cardinals have finished with under 10 turnovers on 14 occasions this season and have just 34 in the past four games. . . . The Cardinals rank third in steals per game nationally and have had double digit steals in 29 of the last 41 games. . . . Seven of the last nine opponents have shot less than 40 percent from the field.