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VIDEO: No. 2 Louisville outlasts Northern Iowa

Nov 23, 2012, 12:38 AM EDT

Russ SMith, Anthony James

No. 2 Louisville knocked off Northern Iowa 51-46 in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thursday night in a game that was just as ugly as we expected. The two teams combined to shoot 32.4% from the floor, 26.8% from three and turn the ball over 41 times. (Although, somewhat surprisingly, there were only 29 fouls called and 19 foul shots taken.)

Louisville used a 21-2 run over 10 minutes that spanned both halves, opening up a 40-22 lead on the usually stingy Panthers. But you better believe that the Panthers had a run in them, as they immediately answered with a 22-5 run that cut Louisville’s lead to 45-44 with two minutes left.

The Cardinals pulled away in the final minutes, with an and-one lay-up from Russ Smith being the dagger.

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Frankly, there really wasn’t much to take out of this game that we didn’t already know heading in.

Louisville is going to be a tough team to play due to their size and athleticism inside and the pesky, quick defenders at the front of their press. They are going to be a tough team to watch offensively, at least early in the season, as Rick Pitino’s club figures out what, exactly, they want to do and what they are capable of doing offensively. Right now, the Cardinals are not a team that can be counted on to score a lot of points.

Northern Iowa also wasn’t a secret heading into the season if you were paying attention. They are probably the second best team in the Missouri Valley, and there were some out there that thought the Panthers had a real chance to win this game. They have size, they defend, they are experienced and they have a couple of talented, veteran guards. That’s a good combination.

Smith finished with 16 points, five assists, five boards and four steals for Louisville, who will play Missouri at 9:30 ET tomorrow night in the semifinals.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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