Louisville overcomes deficit, tops Memphis
by C.L. Brown, USA TODAY Sports
MEMPHIS — Louisville hobbled, staggered and finally rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat Memphis 87-78 Saturday before 18,392 fans at FedEx Forum.
The early snapshots of the sixth-ranked Cardinals (9-1) that revealed a beat-up team looked just as bad after the game in a locker room where ice bags were seemingly being handed out like the post-game meal.
“Yeah,” forward Luke Hancock said, “that’s Louisville basketball.”
Peyton Siva, who finished with 19 points and seven assists, showed a bloodied smile in the first half after absorbing a blow to the face.
Even Chane Behanan, who scored a season-high 22 points, looked like he’d injured a knee when he limped off the floor in the second half, grimacing in pain.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he was prepared to play without forward Stephan Van Treese after a knee injury kept him out of multiple practices during the week. Van Treese played nine minutes in a front court already without starting center Gorgui Dieng.
“I didn’t know if he was going to play me or not because I didn’t practice at all (Friday),” said Van Treese, who later added, “It was stiff when I first got out there, for sure. Once I got warmed up, I felt better.”
Russ Smith, who struggled from the field early, twisted an ankle in the first half when he came down on a defender’s foot and had to be helped off the court. His teammates say he tends to have a flair for the dramatics when it comes to being injured and they expected him back.
“If you feel like you can contribute, then you have to play — no matter what,” Smith said. “Nobody is 100 percent. I wasn’t even really 100 percent, but I had to go out there and do whatever I could to get a victory.”
Victory for Pitino meant getting the ball to Behanan. He made sure the players understood that at halftime, after watching the sophomore forward get just two shot attempts.
“We put in a lot of plays this week, a lot of things for Chane Behanan and we ignored him,” Pitino said. “It doesn’t pay to … [For more on Louisville overcomes 16-point deficit to top Memphis, click here.]