Top-seeded Louisville tramples Colorado State
Lexington, KY (Sports Network) - After mowing through another opponent, Louisville seems intent on making another deep run through the NCAA Tournament.
Russ Smith had 27 points and the Cardinals' defense created intense havoc in an 82-56 drubbing of Colorado State in third-round play of the Midwest Region.
For the second game in a row and 15th time this season, the Cardinals (31-5) forced 20 turnovers and will now head back to the Sweet 16 for a second consecutive season.
"I think one of the reasons we played one our best games of the season is how much we -- how much respect and focus we had for Colorado State," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "We really thought, and I thought these guys haven't been around as long as me, is this was the toughest second round opponent that I've ever coached."
Gorgui Dieng scored 12 points and Montrezl Harrell had 11 for Louisville, which will face 12th-seeded Oregon on Friday in Indianapolis.
Colorado State's offense was turned sluggish by Louisville's pressure and never got into any sort of rhythm. Greg Smith scored 14 points and Daniel Bejarano had 10 for the Rams (26-9), who had advanced after defeating Missouri in second-round play.
The teams exchanged scores through the first 8 1/2 minutes, but after Dieng's second straight bucket, the Cardinals started creating separation.
Smith's 3-pointer and pair of ensuing free throws had Louisville ahead, 26-19, and the margin soon swelled to 14 as the team's defensive pressure started to buckle the Rams.
Colorado State, which averages about 11 turnovers per game, matched that total less than 16 minutes into the contest, with Bejarano's giveaway leading to another Smith triple and a 38-24 lead for the Cardinals.
"I just describe it as just total chaos," said Smith on the Cardinals' press. "You know, some of those guys are just so fast, and you may think that you have an open lane or, you know, the passing or you think the pass is coming and they close it down so quick."
Louisville generated 18 points off the Rams' first half turnovers, and Montrezel Harrell's buzzer beating jumper danced around the rim before falling through to give the Cardinals a 45-31 lead at the break.
The Rams were just as sloppy offensively after halftime and quickly found themselves behind by 21 points six minutes through the second period.
Peyton Siva spearheaded a 12-4 push with a pair of layups as Louisville continued to manufacture easy buckets off the Rams' mistakes to extend its lead to 59-38.
Colorado State shot well, 47.5 percent for the game, but couldn't keep the Cardinals from scoring 42 points in the paint and Louisville led by at least 20 over the last 5 1/2 minutes of play.
The Rams had only 14 points inside the paint ... Louisville will appear in its 19th Sweet 16 ... Colton Iverson had nine points and seven rebounds for the Rams.
03/23 22:40:37 ET