louisville cincinnati feb

No. 11 Louisville wins wild game thanks to Russ Smith heroics over No. 7 Cincinnati

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Louisville and Cincinnati have been together playing basketball in other leagues before. In its second matchup in the American Athletic Conference, the top two teams in the league grinded-out an ugly, low-scoring contest as No. 11 Louisville knocked off No. 7 Cincinnati for a huge 58-57 road win.

Russ Smith (10 points, five assists, three steals) came up huge for the Cardinals in the game’s final possessions as he delivered two key assists to the post on pick-and-rolls before hitting the go-ahead jumper with 2.2 seconds left to seal the win for Louisville. The Cardinals deflected the ensuing Bearcat inbound attempt when Cincinnati was out of timeouts to secure the victory.

The two top AAC teams split the season series as each team won on the road against the other. Both teams are now at two losses in the AAC as the Cardinals are 12-2 and Cincinnati is 13-2.

Despite a slow-shooting first half from Sean Kilpatrick, who started 2-for-13 from the field, or the foul problems of Justin Jackson, Cincinnati quickly found itself down early before rallying for a 21-19 halftime deficit.

The late-game free throw shooting of the Bearcats kept them ahead of the Cardinals in a back-and-forth final few possessions that saw each team trade baskets after a slow-moving second half. Cincinnati went on a 10-o run with under four minutes remaining to get back into the game after a stagnant offensive stretch.

Kilpatrick finished with 28 points including a strong second half of 22 points while Montrezl Harrell brought tremendous consistent energy for Louisville on the glass, as a weak side shot blocker and as an offensive option on the pick and roll as he finished with 21 points.

This is a big road win for Louisville, who now has a road win over a really tough top-10 opponent. Can the Cardinals win the AAC and secure a good seed? And how will Cincinnati respond with two games against Connecticut and Memphis coming up after this?

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.