Thursday afternoon, No. 16 Southern gave No. 1 Gonzaga a run for their money. Louisville might have been watching, because they got up early against No. 16 North Carolina A&T and did not relent, blowing them out in a dunk-filled 79-46 romp.
Did you think that Louisville's No. 1 defense would take a night off, just because they were playing arguably the weakest team in the pool of 64? They didn't. They forced 25 turnovers, and turned a lot of them into fast break scores. They held the Aggies to 16-for-40 shooting, and although there were tons of misses to be grabbed, the Cardinals got most of them, allowing just four offensive boards. Although there was flukily good three-point shooting from North Carolina A&T, this game was not close in the slightest, and there were few facets of the game where Louisville didn't win by a comfortable margin.
Russ Smith led the way with 23 points and seven steals - seven - before taking an early exit. Nobody else got into double-digits for the Cards.
This one really wasn't close for long. It was just 6-4 at the under-16 timeout, but the Cardinals would go on a 12-2 run before the next stoppage in play, and with a little under 7 to go in the first half, Louisville was up by 34-14. They'd enter the break up 47-31, having forced the Aggies into 13 turnovers against just five assists. And this after NC A&T shot 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.
There was a lot of this on a night NC A&T's best defender was, well, the rim.
Oh well, NC A&T. We'll always have Dayton.
Louisville will play the winner of Colorado State-Missouri on Saturday.
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