Louisville’s Russ Smith and Peyton Siva Are Best Guard Duo In Final Four

Kevin Ware only scored three points in the box score against Duke, but he was on everyone’s mind and his name was uttered in every prayer. With 6:41 left in the first half, Ware suffered one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of collegiate or professional basketball. While contesting a Tyler Thornton three, he landed on his right leg and dropped to the floor in pain. Seconds later, Thorton, already up the court, looked back and winced in horror at the sight of Ware's shin potruding through his skin.

However, with Ware in their hearts and minds, Louisville rallied past Duke and still has the best guard duo advancing the Final Four. Michigan’s duo of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. have the NBA futures ahead of them, but defensively they leave a lot to be desired. Burke and Hardaway have a tendency to get beaten off the dribble while the Wolverines are 40th in defensive efficiency this season. Within the confines of Rick Pitino’s suffocating press, Smith and Siva are two of the best man-to-man defenders in the nation. More importantly, they blanket defenders for 94 feet and penetrate the lane offensively.

After a halftime tune-up, Duke sputtered as Louisville’s lightning-quick guards stepped on the gas, pumped up the nitrous and pulled away with a 50-31 second half surge.

Prior to Ware’s injury, Russ Smith had just four points. After wiping away tears while teammates bawled on the court face down, Smith turned on the jets and balled out. He finished with 23 and was escorted to the line 12 times, making nine of them.

Louisville’s guards drive the lane like a pair of Bugatti’s cruising downhill on the Autobahn. Fortunately, there was no speed limit because Duke’s family sedan guards couldn’t keep up. Neither could any of their previous tourney foes or their Big East competition.  Smith does the scoring, Siva dishes. Defensively, they're Hummers pushing other guards off the road.  They beat the brakes off of guards dating back to the Big East championship against Syracuse or escorted them into the path of post traffic cop Gorgiu Dieng. Dieng finished with 14 points against Duke, but most of them were off of assists from a penetrating Siva.

Unfortunately, the third guard in their rotation, who played his high school ball in Georgia, won’t be joining them. However, he will be an emotional spark plug.

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