The University of Louisville was due an easy win with all the positive things that had gone UofL’s way during the week.

The school getting invited to the ACC, the football team earning a BCS berth. Difficult challenges, major hurdles to overcome. Fans maybe saving their emotions for showdowns in soccer and women’s basketball.

Rick Pitino had warned anyone who would listen that Illinois State is a dangerous basketball team. But his team isn’t listening, probably writing it off as coach speak, the pontificator exaggerating again. His players showing up flat, playing uninspired basketball, until their backs are against the wall against a very good team.

UofL would eke out a 69-66 win, the game ending on a play leaving some puzzled looks from the ISU coaching staff. You know, the old three-point shooter jumping into the defender ploy. This set of officials wasn’t falling for it, fortunately.

Russ Smith, with Pitino echoing in his ears all game long, turning the ball over five times, but partially redeeming himself with 11 of 14 at the free throw line and a team-leading 24 points.

Peyton Siva, getting into foul trouble early, contributing eight of his 20 points, including two three-pointers, in the final eight minutes.

Chane Behanan becoming more active, seven of eight field goals and nine rebounds.

Gorgui Dieng looking on, wrist wrapped in a cast, has said things that come easy aren’t worth much. So maybe it was a good win.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.