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5 Things We Learned from Louisville's Win over Saint Louis

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2014

5 Things We Learned from Louisville's Win over Saint Louis

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Louisville fought its way into the Sweet 16 with a 66-51 victory over Saint Louis in Orlando on Saturday afternoon.

    The Cardinals survived a brutal first half, in which both sides combined for 41 points, to move past the Billikens. 

    Rick Pitino's team will now face either Wichita State or Kentucky in a juicy Sweet 16 matchup in Indianapolis on Friday.

    Here is a look at the five biggest lessons we took away from Louisville's victory over the Billikens. 

Another Day, Another Star Shut Down

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Two days after shutting down Manhattan's George Beamon because of foul trouble, Louisville shut down Saint Louis big man Rob Loe because of the same issue. 

    Loe earned three personal fouls in the first 10 minutes of the game and never was able to get in a rhythm to threaten the Cardinals. 

    The foul trouble to the two stars is a credit to the Louisville full-court pressure and the halfcourt sets that it runs. 

    The Cardinals big men also played a role in forcing Loe to commit fouls and earn an extended stay on the bench.

     

The Cardinals Hit Saint Louis with a Balanced Attack

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Having more than one player step up and contribute over 10 points is something that most championship-caliber teams need for a sustained run in the Big Dance. 

    Luke Hancock, Russ Smith, Montrezl Harrell and Chris Jones all hit double figures for the Cardinals in Saturday's victory. 

    If all four of those players can keep the same level of production up throughout the rest of the tournament, the Cardinals will be a tough team to defend. 

    Those four players also bring different skill sets to the game with Hancock being the clutch three-point shooter, Smith being the go-to guard, while Harrell is the major paint presence and Jones is the X-factor in the backcourt. 

    With a quartet that can hit you from all angles firing on all cylinders, the Cardinals will be hard to pick against over the next two weeks. 

Stephan Van Treese Is the Perfect Complement to Harrell Inside

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Harrell will steal all the headlines in the rebounding department due to his 11 boards, but Stephan Van Treese must be given some credit as well.

    Van Treese contributed eight rebounds and two blocks down low to add to the growing paint presence that the Cardinals contain. 

    In his 25 minutes on the court, Van Treese also attempted two field goals, but that is a fine stat line to have given his play on the inside. 

    If Van Treese can keep his strong production up against the trees that Wichita State or Kentucky possess in the paint, Louisville will have added an extra weapon to its rotation. 

You Don't Have to Shoot Lights Out, but You Do Have to Outshoot Your Opponent

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Louisville did not have the best day shooting, but the good news was Saint Louis shot worse. 

    The Cardinals shot 44.9 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from three-point range and 66.7 percent from the line. 

    Saint Louis put up even worse numbers as it failed to make a single three and shot 39.6 percent from the field. The Billikens also made just nine of their 16 free throws.

    Yes, Louisville must shoot better, but in the survive and advance part of the season, this performance was good enough to see the Cardinals through. 

The Sweet 16 Matchup Will Be a Ton of Fun

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Louisville fans know exactly what teams could potentially be up next for their team.

    The Cardinals will face either an intense rivalry game with Kentucky or a rematch from the 2013 Final Four against Wichita State.

    Either way, the Sweet 16 game on Friday will be a game that the Cardinals will have no problem getting pumped up for. 

    With that in mind, the Cardinals must not exert all of their energy to begin the game as they will have to play a full 40 minutes of hard-fought basketball to earn a trip to the Elite Eight. 

     

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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