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No. 12 Louisville shakes off slow start, whips No. 25 Marquette

Feb 3, 2013, 4:24 PM EST

Marquette v Louisville Getty Images

No. 12 Louisville opened Sunday’s game against No. 25 Marquette missing its first seven field goals, trailing the Golden Eagles 9-1 with 15:17 remaining in the first half.

Following a Montrezl Harrell dunk to make the score 9-3 the Cardinals would snap out of their funk, ending the first half on a 37-15 run on their way to a 70-51 win at the KFC Yum! Center.

Guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way offensively for Louisville, combining for 32 points (Smith- 18) and ten assists (Siva- 7). As a team the Cardinals (18-4, 6-3 Big East) shot 51.9% from the field, but just as important (if not more) was their work on the defensive end.

Marquette (15-5, 6-2), a team that places a great deal of importance on how much it gets into the lane offensively, found the going tough against Louisville. Overall the Golden Eagles shot 16-of-40 (40%) on two-point shots, and for a team that entered Sunday’s game shooting just 29.5% from beyond the arc (Marquette shot 3-of-13 from three on Sunday), a number that low leads to a loss more times than not.

Vander Blue (17 points, five rebounds) and Trent Lockett (16 points) were the lone players to reach double figures for the Golden Eagles, who also turned the ball over 17 times while tallying just six assists.

Louisville would convert those turnovers into 32 points, which more than made up for their own turnover count (16 turnovers), while also outscoring Marquette 42-20 in the paint.

Louisville is going to have its issues offensively, be it the questionable (at times) decision-making of Siva and Smith and their perimeter shooting issues. But when Rick Pitino’s team can turn opponents over and hit the offensive glass (the Cardinals rebounding 57.7% of their misses on Sunday, with Harrell and Stephan Van Treese grabbing three offensive boards apiece) they’re among the best teams in the country.

With the win the preseason favorite to win the league finds itself within a game of Marquette and Syracuse in the loss column, and overall seven Big East teams are separated by a single game.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej