Lots of ugly numbers from this loss. 4-17 from three; Cincinnati having 24 free throw attempts to Louisville’s 7; 14 turnovers; and, of course, the ugliest of all – 54-63.
It was the perfect recipe for an “upset”, with Cincinnati searching for a signature win to strengthen their NCAA resume and the Cards potentially looking ahead to their showdown with UConn Friday night in the Yum.
It’s hard to point to one thing in the presence of such a thorough beating, but Siva only logging seven minutes in the first half is definitely one of the biggest factors. Cincy’s defense was draped all over Louisville’s perimeter shooters, and without Siva’s dribble-drive penetration the new-look offense that had been on fire was quickly stymied.
What’s more disturbing is the absolute lack of confidence from players that were solid contributors earlier in the year. Chris Smith has seemingly lost all his confidence as a three point shooter; over the last few games he will pass up wide open shots to dribble the ball and try to pass to others, only to settle for a contested shot. Mike Marra, who provided solid minutes at times earlier in the season as the Cardinals became a rotating MASH unit, has become a liability on defense and an afterthought on offense. Since missing time early in conference play, Marra has just one more assist (9) than turnovers (8) and has shot 6/27 from three.
Nitpicking aside, the easiest way to sum up the game is this: Live by the three, die by the three. Most nights, Louisville will continue its torrid shooting pace (they rank 11th in the country in total three-pointers made, according to ESPN), allowing them to make up for their lack of talent and size compared to some of the more loaded Big East teams. And, though they have underachieved, Cincinnati arguably has more pure talent than the Cardinals. On the road, against an underachieving but talented rival, who is fighting for its tournament life – maybe not such a puzzling loss after all.
– Andrew Swan, Contributing Writer