Louisville turns over No. 9 Marquette in 84-71 win
Kyle Kuric scored 20 points, Siva added 18 and Louisville forced No. 9 Marquette into a season-high 26 turnovers, advancing to the Big East tournament semifinals with an 84-71 victory Thursday night.
Wearing a new set of bright, neon-looking uniforms, the seventh-seeded Cardinals flashed their quick hands all over the court and held Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder to 10 points in 31 foul-plagued minutes.
"I thought the guys did a tremendous job of pushing the pace tonight, getting a lot of easy baskets for us," coach Rick Pitino said.
Marquette entered as the top-scoring squad in the league at 76.1 points per game. But the defense of Chane Behanan and reserve Jared Swopshire made it a very tough night for Crowder and his teammates.
"It was fun for me," Swopshire said. "He's a great player, and me and Chane talked about it when I subbed in that we wanted to keep him from getting touches, especially in the paint area. So, I feel like we were able to do that."
Russ Smith and Behanan each scored 12 points for Louisville (24-9), which plays No. 23 Notre Dame, the third seed, on Friday night.
Darius Johnson-Odom had 23 points to pace No. 2 seed Marquette (25-7), blown out by Louisville in the quarterfinals last year as well. The Golden Eagles trailed by 15 just 6 minutes in and never took the lead. They have yet to make it past the tournament semifinals since joining the Big East for the 2005-06 season.
Siva had another outstanding all-around game at point guard, piling up eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. He had 14 points and six steals in a 61-55 victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday night.
"He played terrific, but I've got to somehow get him a few blows," Pitino said. "Going into this tournament we were hoping he would turn it around, and he is, and we had a long talk. I used the analogy of the New York Giants — nobody remembers the regular season anymore when they went into the playoffs, just matters what you do in the postseason."
Smith also was a pest, snatching five of Louisville's 14 steals. No wonder Pitino said Wednesday night that his squad is one of the best defensive teams in the country.
"The style, we go up and down. That's what Coach wants us to do," Behanan said. "All the teams we played so far in the Big East, they expect us to slow it down. So now coming in, we agreed we were going to play up and down like we (were) in the Bahamas. We've just got to get used to it and attack everybody the same way in each game. That's how we've been getting up. That's it."
Junior Cadougan coughed up the ball a team-high eight times and the 26 turnovers by Marquette, which averaged only 12.8 all season, were one shy of the Big East tournament record. The Golden Eagles' previous high this season was 17.
Marquette overcame an 18-2 deficit at home to beat Louisville in their only other meeting this season, and the Golden Eagles fell behind early again. This time, Louisville's swarming defense was too much to overcome.
"They kept hounding us," Johnson-Odom said. "I think we had an idea that they were going to pressure us. I didn't think it was going to be at a high level like that."
Vander Blue's layup cut it to 54-50 with 13:29 remaining, but Kuric drained a 3 and Smith hit a pair of free throws with 11:22 to go. Marquette never got closer than seven again.
It was the fourth time in five years that the No. 7 seed beat the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals at the Big East tournament.
The Cardinals, who won the 2009 tournament title and lost to Connecticut in last year's championship game, scored 50 points in the first half — their biggest outburst in a half this season. They finished with 26 offensive rebounds and 23 points off turnovers.
"I'm not sure that they've had a better meal all year long than what we served them tonight," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I did a really bad job.
"It never seemed to be in sync. 'Seemed like we just kept passing the mic at a karaoke bar and I'm not sure of the words — you try. We were kicking the ball everywhere. They were taking it from us, just no good, never in rhythm, never in sync."
Swopshire had eight points and 12 rebounds in 20 minutes for Louisville, which held Marquette to 2-for-13 shooting from 3-point range in a game that had a much faster pace than most in this week's event at Madison Square Garden.
Jamil Wilson had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for Marquette.
Just like their previous matchup, Louisville jumped on the Golden Eagles from the opening tip. The Cardinals forced nine turnovers in the first 10:14 and opened a 21-6 lead on Behanan's jumper with 14 minutes to go in the first half.
But then Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng was hit with a technical for protesting a foul call. He went to the bench with three fouls at the 8:15 mark and Pitino shouted up at the 6-foot-10 center, who put his hand on the coach's shoulder.
"I don't know if Gorgui knows that a technical foul is a personal foul, as well," Pitino said. "In Senegal I don't think they have that rule."
Marquette trailed 30-19 when Dieng took a seat but trimmed it to 34-33 on Wilson's putback with 3:57 left in the half. Kuric's 3-pointer started a 16-7 run that sent the Cardinals into halftime with a 50-40 advantage.
Dieng checked back in with 14:01 remaining and finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks — increasing his school record to 107 blocked shots this season. Kuric also had three blocks as Louisville racked up 50 rebounds and nine blocked shots, their best totals in a Big East tournament game.
Pitino credited Swopshire with filling in nicely for Dieng.
"The thing we've got to find out is, can we play without Gorgui? And this young man stepped up, actually drew a charge tonight, which was like the miracle on 34th street," Pitino said. "So it's unbelievable for him to do that. He stepped up big, 12 rebounds. Now Chane knows when Gorgui is out that we can win without Gorgui in the game, and that was great for us to find that out tonight."