5 Things We Learned from Louisville's Win over Manhattan
The Louisville Cardinals escaped a second-round upset, thanks to a late surge powered by two of the team's veteran leaders.
No. 4 Louisville defeated No. 13 Manhattan, 71-64, at the Amway Center in Midwest Region action in Orlando in a game where the defending national champions took away plenty of valuable lessons.
Here are five things we learned from Louisville's triumph over Manhattan in the second round.
'Cool Hand Luke' Was Not Only Clutch, but Smart as Well
Before Luke Hancock drilled the two key three-pointers that put the dagger in Manhattan, he made a veteran play to earn a trip to the foul line.
Instead of driving straight to the basket, Hancock made sure that he made contact with Manhattan big man Rhamel Brown.
The foul was Brown's fifth, and it removed the massive paint presence from the game.
Although Brown probably wouldn't have stopped Hancock from hitting the two threes, it was the wisest decision at the time for the experienced Louisville sharpshooter to draw the foul instead of making the layup.
The Apprentice Had the Perfect Plan to Beat the Master
Manhattan was the absolute worst opponent for Louisville to go up against since Jaspers head coach Steve Masiello used to be an assistant under Rick Pitino.
At one point of the second half, Masiello was calling out the Louisville plays to his defense so that they could prevent the Cardinals from gaining a big lead.
Louisville played an exact mirror image of itself and almost lost because of Masiello's terrific game plan.
One has to think this may be the hardest win the Cardinals will earn in the Big Dance because of how close the strategies of the two teams are.
Russ Smith Was Not Himself
Blame the stingy Manhattan press or the hand injury he picked up in the first half, but Russ Smith had an off night for the Cardinals.
Smith did show up late in the game with a clutch three and three key free throws, but other than that, he delivered an average showing.
The senior shot just 3-of-9 from the field and scored 11 of his 18 points at the line.
For the Cardinals to win in easier fashion against Saint Louis on Saturday, Smith must revert back to his old self and score between 20 and 30 points.
Manhattan's Paint Play Caused Issues for the Defense
Brown and Ashton Pankey had strong games in the paint for the Jaspers, as they combined for 25 points and eight rebounds.
With an imposing big man in Rob Loe ahead in the next round against Saint Louis, the Cardinals must make an adjustment inside to make sure Loe does not get easy opportunities down low.
That means that players like Stephan Van Treese and Mangok Mathiang will have to assist Montrezl Harrell in the frontcourt defensive sets when they are on the court together.
Van Treese did show some signs of progress with seven rebounds, but he must be at his best alongside Harrell if they want to deny Loe the production that Pankey and Brown had.
Shutting Down Manhattan's Best Offensive Weapon Helped Seal Win
If you paid close attention to the final stages of the game, the name of George Beamon, Manhattan's leading scorer, was barely mentioned.
The reason for that was that Beamon found himself in foul trouble and could never get a rhythm going in the shooting department.
Beamon made just three field goals on his way to a disappointing seven-point performance.
If the Cardinals can force Saint Louis' Jordair Jett into foul trouble early in the third-round clash, advancing on to the Sweet 16 will be that much easier.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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