By ASHLEY ANDERSON
Before the game, fans and media perpetuated a new nickname for the University of Kentucky’s home court, dubbed “Russ Arena” in honor of junior guard Russ Smith’s outstanding play over the last two games.
Smith scored 27 against the Rams of Colorado State on 7-of-15 shooting, after tallying 23 against North Carolina A&T on Thursday. Smith’s performance was so impressive he received a shout out on Twitter from LeBron James of the Miami Heat: ”The lil homie Russ Smith putting on a show right now! #onfire.”
It was a show indeed, but not just from Russdiculous. The entire Louisville team stepped up to manhandle a team many had touted as a dangerous mismatch for the Cards. Heading into the game, the Rams claimed the No. 1 rebounding margin in the country and committed an average of just 10 turnovers per game. But, Louisville had an answer. The Cards caused a season-high 20 turnovers for Colorado State and outrebounded the Rams 29-24.
Along with Smith’s 27, big men Gorgui Dieng and Montrezl Harrell added 12 and 11 points, respectively. The Cards also shared in the rebounding effort, with Wayne Blackshear and Harrell pulling down four boards each, and Chane Behanan, Stephan Van Treese, Peyton Siva, Dieng and Smith each snagging three.
Louisville (31-5) will play 12th-seeded Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen on Friday, March 29, in Indianapolis. Tip off is at 7:15 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune