INDIANAPOLIS — It took 11 minutes and 26 seconds for Seth Curry to attempt his first shot. He only got three in the first half. All were tightly contested. All missed.
“It kind of threw us back at first,” Curry said of the Cardinals’ defense. “They didn’t know what we were in.”
Curry and Quinn Cook described it as a box-and-one, as there were always two players on Curry when he received the ball.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino described it as a trapping zone designed to take away his 3-point looks. That was half of a two-part plan: keep the Blue Devils out of transition and take away their 3-point shots.
“We wanted to take (Ryan) Kelly and Curry out,” Pitino said.
Kelly’s early foul trouble limited his minutes while the game was competitive.
Curry kept working for open looks, and he found some room early in the second half. He hit two 3s and converted two free throws. Pitino responded by taking Peyton Siva off him and putting Luke Hancock in his place.
“Coach P told me I wasn’t a great defender, so I had to get off of him and Luke had to get him,” Siva said. “Coach P is actually pretty funny, because Coach tells Luke he’s the worst defender in the world, but Luke wanted to show him up today and did a great job in the second half.”
After Hancock picked up Curry, the Duke senior went 0-for-3 from the field, only scoring a layup in the final minute. Curry finished 3-of-9 with 12 points.
“That was probably the most attention I’ve had the whole season,” Curry said. “I wasn’t trying to force anything or take any bad shots. I tried to let it come to me. I got a few good looks in the second half. My teammates were getting good looks for the most part.”
Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon led the Blue Devils with 11 and 10 shots from the field, respectively. They only hit four of them, or 19 percent.
Tired legs: Keeping up with the Cardinals’ torrid pace on offense and defense is a challenge for any team.
“You have to have the legs, those guys are really fast and really quick,” Sulaimon said. “You have to have the discipline to do that for 40 minutes. I thought we did that for 30 minutes, when it was like, 42-42.
“Not to make excuses – those guys, they do a great job. They made shots, put a lot of pressure on us and we just couldn’t keep the ball out of the lane. We gave it everything we had.”