College Basketball: Siva dominates Louisville's NCAA-opening win, if not the scoring column
Louisville guard Peyton Siva (3) gains the upper hand as he battles for a rebound with North Carolina A&T guard Lamont Middleton during the first half of the Cardinals' 79-48 victory Thursday in an NCAA tournament second-round game in Lexington. (Clay Jackson / January 23, 2013)
The Louisville point guard did not got his first bucket until there were 2 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first half. But by that time, he had already collected five assists, had three steals and helped the Cardinals force 14 turnovers and take a 16-point halftime lead.
He finished with six points, eight assists and four steals in 26 minutes as the top-seeded Cardinals rolled over North Carolina A&T 79-48 in their NCAA Midwest Regional opener at Rupp Arena.
“That’s what ‘Coach P’ (Rick Pitino) wants me to do. I don’t have to score every game, and for me to go out there and control the game with my passing and my steals, that’s what ‘Coach P’ wants,” said Siva, who added to his school-record steals total and now has 244. “My shots weren’t falling, and my job was to get other people open shots. Russ (Smith) did a great job of converting a lot of them and Montrezl (Harrell) and Chane (Behanan) dunked the ball a lot, and that was just my job to run the team.”
In addition to his steals, Louisville’s coaches credited him with 16 deflections — part of what the team said was a record 67 in all — and the Cardinals had an NCAA tournament-record 20 steals.
North Carolina A&T had 14 turnovers by halftime, and Louisville had nine steals.
“Our whole thing is trying to get deflections and trying to get a piece of the ball,” Siva said. “We had (67) and our goal is 40. ... We just tried to continue to pressure them. Russ (eight steals) did a good job pressuring the ball, and me and Wayne (Blackshear) had four steals each and were just playing the passing lanes. But I think overall our whole defense did a better job.”
Smith also had eight steals, and Louisville said he had 16 deflections.
Pitino praised the defensive effort of his backcourt.
“We made it a goal tonight to get 15 steals in the game. We thought it was going to be a chaotic game by both teams and we wanted to protect the ball,” he said. “The way Peyton and Russ played defense tonight was amazing to me because of the way they kept moving their feet. They were playing without reaching into the other person’s plane. So I thought it was just an amazing effort by the backcourt.”
Siva assisted on the Cardinals’ first basket on Gorgui Dieng’s layup 15 seconds into the game. His assist on Blackshear’s 3-pointer put the Cardinals up 25-7, his assist on Luke Hancock’s try made it 31-14 with 7:03 left in the first half, and his alley-oop pass on Harrell’s dunk made it 40-19.
He finally scored on a layup to make it 45-26.
Siva said it was good to see the Cardinals jump on the Aggies quickly.
“I think this game was very important for us because it’s the first game of the tournament. You’ve got jitters from guys who haven’t played before. For the most part I think everyone came out and played well,” he said. “I think we just played good defense. We had a few miscues, but for the most part some of the things went our way.”
North Carolina A&T coach Cy Alexander said it is impossible to replicate what Louisville does defensively in practice, especially in the little time the Aggies had following their first-round game Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.
“This was the quickest team for its size, and you know, I was told by several coaches that had played Louisville, their strength and quickness of the guards, quick hands, Siva and Smith, and it’s hard to simulate that in 24 hours,” Alexander said. “In a hotel ballroom, it’s kind of hard to simulate when we walked through last night.”
In the second half, a Siva steal led to a jumper from Smith, who finished with 23 points, and two straight buckets gave the Cardinals a 62-37 lead with 12:54 to play.
After a North Carolina A&T turnover, one of 27 on the night, Siva found Smith for another 3-pointer and a 65-37 lead with 12:02 to play. On the next play, he went diving to the floor after knocking the ball loose, collected it and found Smith who went in for a wide open dunk.
Siva capped off his night by finding Stephan Van Treese for a dunk and a 70-39 lead.