Louisville's Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are widely considered to be the best backcourt in college basketball.
They'd get little argument from the College of Charleston.
Smith scored 13 points and Siva added 12 as the fifth-ranked Cardinals cruised to an 80-38 victory over the College of Charleston (5-3) in a nationally-televised game Tuesday night at a sold-out TD Arena.
Wayne Blackshear led the Cardinals (7-1) with 18 points, but it was Siva and Smith who dominated the floor.
“Smith and Siva are very good,” said College of Charleston guard Anthony Stitt. “They put pressure on you in both ends of the floor. They don't give you any room to do anything. When they drove to the basket, they were able to kick the ball out and knock down their shots.”
The Cardinals' trademark full-court pressure took its toll on the Cougars, as they committed a season-high 27 turnovers.
“They were bigger, stronger, faster and we didn't handle their pressure very well,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “You can't win a game making 27 turnovers. They had 18 steals. They are very impressive. They play hard, they pressure you all over the floor and we didn't make good decisions with the ball.”
The Cougars (5-3) struggled offensively all night. The Cardinals played most of the game in a 1-3-1 zone, forcing the Cougars to the wings. The 38 points was the lowest production for the Cougars since joining the Division I level.
“That's the best we've played all year, but the reason we played so well was our respect for the College of Charleston,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
The standing-room-only crowd tried to will the Cougars back into the game, but never got the chance as the Cardinals took control in the early minutes of the game. The Cardinals were the highest-ranked team to face the Cougars on their home court and looked every bit of the national championship contender they were billed to be at the beginning of the season.
“We could never get in the rhythm of the game,” Stitt said. “We didn't attack their zone like we should have. We needed to be more aggressive.”
College of Charleston's Adjehi Baru was one of the few bright spots for the Cougars. The sophomore finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
“Adjehi looked like he belonged on the court,” Wojcik said. “He was very impressive. We didn't get him the ball in the first half and he still finished with a double-double. Great effort.”
Stitt finished with seven points.
The Cardinals got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 12-3 lead just six minutes into the game. After a brief run by the Cougars, the Cardinals, who were 13 of 14 from the free-throw line, pushed their advantage to nearly 20 points, using a 14-2 run midway through the first half to break open the game.
The Cougars trailed 36-16 at halftime.