Playing in an arena that is usually reserved for its rival, No. 1 Louisville blasted No. 16 North Carolina A&T, 79-48, in the round of 64 on Thursday, March 21.
The Cardinals put on their patented full-court press in front of a crowd dressed mostly in red at Rupp Arena, and the Aggies were simply too overwhelmed to do anything about it.
NC A&T put up a commendable effort. It shot 50 percent from beyond the arc in the first half and didn't look scared against the Goliath of the Midwest region. However, it committed turnover after turnover as Louisville jumped out to a 47-31 lead at halftime.
Rick Pitino kept up the pressure for most of the second half, and as the Aggies began to cool off from the field, the Cardinals extended the lead even more.
Fueled by mostly fast-break dunks and layups, the Cardinals shot a scorching 56.4 percent from the field. Russ Smith poured in 23 points on 16 field-goal attempts, while seven other players recorded at least five points.
Smith also racked up seven thefts, Peyton Siva tallied five and the Cardinals totaled 19 overall, as the Aggies—who made just 17 total field goals—coughed up the ball an amazing 25 times.
Things get significantly tougher in the next round for Pitino's crew. The Cardinals will face the winner of Colorado State and Missouri for a spot in the Sweet 16.
It wasn't all bad for North Carolina A&T. If this were some type of dual competition that also involved a "battle of the bands," we would be tied right now (via NC A&T's athletic department):
N.C. A&T Athletics @NCATAGGIES
In the band department, Louisville is the 16th seed and #NCAT is the one seed. @UofLsports fans just gave them a standing ovation.3/22/2013, 12:10:10 AM
So, there's that.
Other than that, this one was all Cardinals, who got contributions from nearly everyone on the court. Smith, who had something called his "schwerve" on, led the way (via Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde):
Pat Forde @YahooForde
Russ Smith has his schwerve on and shot falling now. Has 20 points.3/22/2013, 12:37:09 AM
Smith's backcourt mate, Siva, didn't have to take as many shots to make his own impact (via CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel):
Gregg Doyel @GreggDoyelStar
Peyton Siva has scored no points - taken no shots - but is dominating anyway. Five assists, three steals.3/21/2013, 11:45:27 PM
The bench wasn't to be outdone, though (via CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein):
Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein
Louisville's bench continues to be a major factor. 18 points bw Ware, Harrell, and Van Treese with 16 to play.3/22/2013, 12:26:08 AM
Of course, it wasn't all rainbows and gumdrops for the Cardinals. As the Midwest correspondent at Rush the Court pointed out, they displayed some potential chinks in the armor for next round:
RTC Midwest Region @RTCMWRegion
#Louisville's poor def rebounding and 3-pt shooting could cost them against #CSU or #Mizzou. Plays into their strengths. #MarchMadness3/22/2013, 12:31:40 AM