University of Louisville's Gorgui Dieng dunks the ball over top University of Kentucky's Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer during the first half of play in their NCAA basketball game a Yum! Center in Louisville

No. 4 Louisville outlasts Kentucky in foul-plagued rivalry rematch


Kansas survived Ohio State in last week’s Final Four rematch, but the tables were turned in Louisville’s 80-77 triumph over their in-state rivals in the KFC Yum! Center.

Russ Smith picked up his fourth foul with over nine minutes remaining in the second half, joining Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva on the bench in similar straits. Despite the looming disqualification of Louisville’s Big Three, the Cards continued to play aggressively and survived to claim the win in the renewal of the Battle of the Bluegrass.

The fact that it came down to fouls may tip a clever reader off to the fact that it also came down to foul shots. Therein lies the rub for Calipari-coached teams, and the beat went on at the free throw line. The Wildcats shot better from the floor (48.3%) than they did from the line (47.8%). The mega-athletic Willie Cauley-Stein had a particularly awful night at the line, missing all four of his freebies.

Siva scored 19 before his fifth foul sent him permanently to the bench with :35 left, but teammates Russ Smith (21 points) and Gorgui Dieng (6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) were able to stay on the court until the final buzzer. Dieng was playing his first game back from a hand injury that held him out of the past seven games, and he was playing — for the first time in his college career — in front of his parents, who flew in from Senegal for the big rivalry game.

Kentucky got solid play from Ryan Harrow (17 points), Archie Goodwin (22 points) and Kyle Wiltjer (14). The Wildcats played more of a finesse game, however, which was often brought up short by the physical pounding laid on by the Cardinals. Russ Smith and Chane Behanan (20 points) combined for six steals, and Louisville threw several traps and screens at the younger Wildcats throughout the game. Nonetheless, Harrow upheld his end of the bargain, as pointed out by regional radio host Larry Glover:

While Kentucky is improving, the team concept has yet to completely gel, obviously. Louisville continues to struggle to score at times, but with Dieng back, they’ll stay on the road to the Final Four until someone is able to knock them off course.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor and tweets @stfhoops.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.