Rapid Reaction: Louisville 59, New Mexico 56

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
12:15
AM ET

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A quick look at Louisville's 59-56 win over New Mexico in a round-of-32 NCAA tournament game in the Rose Garden.

Overview: The frantic second half featured two huge runs against two stingy defenses, but Louisville was able to hold on at the end due to some clutch play from guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. The Cardinals jumped to a 44-29 lead with an 18-4 run to start the second half. Immediately thereafter, the Lobos countered with their own 17-5 run, which closed the gap to 49-46 with 6:30 remaining. Game on. But Siva made a driving layup and got a huge assist on a dunk from Gorgui Dieng to stop the bleeding. He and Smith each hit a pair of free throws down the stretch, which kept New Mexico at bay.

Turning point: The turning point, really, was New Mexico fighting back, because it looked like it was going to be a blowout midway through the second half. But the fact that the Lobos fell just three points short makes it fair to ask why they came out of the halftime locker room so flat, yielding a 15-point deficit before they fought back.

Key player: Russ Smith scored a team-high 17 points, including hitting all three of his 3-pointers. He also had three steals.

Key stat: While New Mexico ended up hitting an awful five of 23 3-point attempts, the worst of it was the Lobos connecting on just two of their first 17. They shot 39.7 percent from the field -- versus 45.8 percent from Louisville -- which is a big reason a 34-23 rebounding advantage didn't matter.

Miscellaneous: Louisville is headed to its 18th Sweet 16. ... The Cardinals connected on seven of 15 3-point attempts (46.7 percent). ... New Mexico forward Drew Gordon had four points and five rebounds at halftime. He finished with a game-high 21 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. ... Siva, who averaged 14.4 points in five previous postseason games, had no points and just two assists at halftime, but he scored six points and dished three assists in the second half. ... New Mexico shot only eight free throws. Louisville shot 12.

What’s next: Louisville will play the winner of Michigan State's Sunday game with Saint Louis in the Sweet 16.

Ted Miller | email

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