Friday, March 22, 2013 — LEXINGTON, Ky. — As expected, top-seeded Louisville had an easy time with 16-seed North Carolina A&T in its 2013 NCAA Tournament opener.
Russ Smith and Peyton Siva made sure of it.
Smith had 23 points, a career-high eight steals and three assists, while Siva finished with six points, a team-best eight assists and four steals as the 30-5 Cardinals ran by the Aggies 79-48 at Rupp Arena in Lexington on Thursday.
"It was a special night for those two guys," Pitino said. "Russ is a really special player."
Louisville, which had 19 steals and forced 23 A&T turnovers, will face either eighth-seed Colorado State or ninth-seed Missouri in Saturday's third round at Lexington. Tipoff time has not yet been announced.
"We made a big goal of getting 15 steals in the game," said Pitino, whose teams are now 43-16 in NCAA Tournament games. "The way Peyton and Russ played defense tonight was amazing to me. I thought that was an amazing defensive effort by our backcourt."
"I think they have what it takes to win the national championship," A&T coach Cy Alexander said of the second-ranked Cardinals.
Louisville held the Aggies to 41.5 percent from the field and and A&T made just 17 field goals on 58 possessions. According to Pitino, the Cardinals had 67 deflections, the most recorded by any team in his 35 years as a head coach — college or the NBA.
Sophomore Wayne Blackshear contributed with 12 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the Cardinals, who shot 56 percent from the floor as a team, including 27 of 39 from
inside the 3-point arc for 69 percent.
Sophomore center Gorgui Dieng, who had eight points and seven boards, got the Cardinals off to a good start with the team's first four points. A Blackshear hook shot started a 14-2 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Luke Hancock and Kevin Ware.