On what seemed like “Upset Saturday” in the state of Kentucky, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals have escaped.
Not long after No. 8 Kentucky fell to unranked Baylor, Illinois State ran Louisville to the wire, missing two threes that would have tied the game on its final possession and giving the Cardinals a 69-66 victory.
Illinois State’s Tyler Brown took the final shot off a kick-out, appearing to have drawn contact on the way up, but there was no whistle and the shot fell short.
Brown finished with 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting and added five rebounds. Fellow guard Jackie Carmichael had a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
For Louisville, the play of guard Peyton Siva was the catalyst offensively Saturday afternoon. The 6-0 senior had 20 points on an efficient 7-of-13 shooting and added four assists while turning the ball over just twice.
It is the third straight game where Siva has begun to find his stride, after shooting 8-of-28 through the team’s first four games.
Against high quality opponents, it is often the case that as goes Siva, so goes Louisville, with the senior playing the role of leader and sparkplug on Saturday.
Illinois State came out of the gate on a 14-2 run over the first eight minutes of the game, extending that lead to as many as 13 points mid-way through the first and carrying an eight-point lead into halftime.
But a 12-2 run by Louisville early in the second half pulled the Cardinals ahead by two with 16:24 to play. Of the five baskets made during that stretch, Siva scored one and assisted on three others.
The game stayed within six points the rest of the way, with Siva’s two free throws sealing the game late.
Louisville moves to 6-1 on the season and returns to the floor Tuesday against College of Charleston.