David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals torched the Huskies in the second half on the way to their first win as No. 1.
UConn hung with--and mostly outplayed--Louisville for a half monday night, but a blistering second half propelled the Cardinals to an easy victory that showed it's no accident that they are ranked No. 1 in the polls.
Peyton Siva had his 507th straight all-world performance against the Huskies, though in a twist he sat out most of the first half thanks to two early fouls. That kept him fresh to lead a devastating press in the second half which led to 10 Husky turnovers and visibly exhausted the Huskies.
As frustrating as Siva was, his backcourt mate Russ Smith might have been even more troublesome for the Huskies. Smith kept Louisville close in the Siva-less first half and ended the game with 23 points on 50 percent shooting. Even worse, a high percentage of his baskets seemed to come at critical junctures, either snuffing out a UConn run or reigniting a Cardinal burst.
The Huskies might have been able to put up a better fight if they had an answer inside for Gorgui Dieng, but they couldn't solve the problem of the Cardinal's big man who had 16 rebounds, two blocks and several more altered shots. That, combined with a second-half deficit left UConn launching threes that they frankly looked too tired to hit.
The Cardinals were just too much for this Husky team. In another world--one where UConn has enough front court depth to combat the Cardinals inside--you could picture UConn keeping this closer, but with all five starters forced to play at least 30 minutes against a defense that could only be described as vicious, Louisville was just too much to handle.