Louisville drops UConn in first game as No. 1
by C.L. Brown, USA TODAY Sports
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connnecticut found out what a No. 1 team looks like.
Louisville, newly crowned as the top team in both the USA TODAY coaches and Associated Press polls on Monday, tapped into a level of play in the second half that the Huskies simply could not match en route to a 73-58 win at the XL Center.
The Cardinals (16-1, 4-0 Big East) held Connecticut without a field goal for a nine-minute stretch in the second half. Between the Huskies’ field goals from 15:47 to 6:44, the Cardinals easily obliterated a six-point halftime deficit with a 21-6 run.
Some of Peyton Siva’s best individual games have come against Connecticut. The first half Monday night was not one of them. Siva scored the Cardinals’ first basket, then promptly picked up two fouls before the first media timeout.
Siva sat the remaining 16:38 minutes of the half. But when he returned to start the second half, he teamed with Russ Smith to crank up the Cardinals’ full-court pressure. Connecticut had seven turnovers just nine minutes into the second half after having seven the entire first half.
The Cardinals defended the 3-point line better — after watching the Huskies make 5-of-9 attempts in the first half, Connecticut was 3-of-13 in the second half. And Louisville shut down Shabazz Napier, who started the game looking like he was on a career-high pace.
Napier had 10 of Connecticut’s first 15 points, but did not score again until 2:47 remained in the game. He finished with 12 as the Huskies managed just 24 points and shot 25% from the floor in the second half after owning a 34-28 halftime advantage.
Siva, who scored 11 points, had nine points, four assists and three steals in the second half.
Smith had a similar start to the game as Napier, but he finished as strong as he started.
Smith was the only player on either squad to play the entire 20 minutes of the first half because of Siva’s foul troubles. But he showed no signs of fatigue when it came to shooting.
Smith was 7-of-13 from the field and had 15 of the Cardinals’ 28 halftime … [For more on Louisville drops UConn in first game as No. 1, click here.]