Cardinals rally to avoid upset

Cardinals rally to avoid upset

Trailing by 8 at the half, 5th-ranked Louisville rallied past upset-minded Illinois State on Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center.

Louisville, Ky - Russ Smith scored 24 points and Peyton Siva added 20, including four 3-pointers, to help No. 5 Louisville edge Illinois State 69-66 on Saturday.

Down 3 with a chance to tie, Illinois State's Tyler Brown airballed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left that was saved by Bryant Allen to Jackie Carmichael. Carmichael found Brown for another chance at overtime, drawing considerable contact from Louisville's Chane Behanan as the buzzer sounded. Louisville (6-1) claimed the win with the shot awry and no foul called.

Up 67-66 with 43 seconds left, Behanan missed two free throws but made amends on the next defensive possession, pinning a Carmichael shot on the glass and grabbing the rebound. That set up Siva for two free throws for the game's final margin.

Illinois State (5-2) led 61-60 with 4:25 to play after being up nearly the entire first half. Brown led all scorers with 25 points. Carmichael added 20.

Playing their second game without injured center Gorgui Dieng, Louisville started flat and trailed by 13 more than eight minutes in before its backcourt and defense rallied.

Junior Stephan Van Treese played 34 minutes in Dieng's absence and provided much-needed energy to go with his eight rebounds and six points.

Louisville trailed for all but the first 39 seconds of the first half, enduring a scoring drought of more than seven minutes after Behanan's opening basket, and went into the break down 33-25. Brown and Carmichael combined for 27 in the first half, outscoring Louisville in the opening 20 minutes.

The Cardinals took just their second lead at 37-35 with 16:37 left since scoring the game's first basket but Illinois State continued to battle in the second half.

Siva - the Big East preseason player of the year - went to the bench with his fourth foul with 13:09 to play. Smith then carried the Louisville offense with his backcourt partner out, driving to the basket and drawing fouls. He hit six of eight free throws in a three-minute stretch, the last cutting the Illinois State lead to 55-51 with 10:03 to play.

Siva returned with 9:07 left, Illinois State up 57-51. Smith's steal from Johnny Hill and layup 21 seconds later was Louisville's first field goal in nearly four minutes. Luke Hancock immediately drew a charge on Hill on the next possession and Siva's 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 8:33 remaining cut the lead to one.

Behanan, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, hit an elbow jumper at the 6:08 mark to give Louisville its first lead in more than 10 minutes at 60-59. Johnny Wilkins' answered with 4:25 left for the Redbirds' last lead at 61-60 before Siva's final three from the right elbow put Louisville up for good nine seconds later.

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