INDIANAPOLIS – Louisville guard Russ Smith couldn’t stop coughing Friday night.
On Saturday, he couldn’t catch a break.
Less than 24 hours after Smith scored a career-high 31 points to send the Cardinals into today’s Midwest Regional final against Duke, he had to endure the friendly jabs from his own locker room.
I think the game last night helped us out a lot by Oregon running so much it ran it all out of us, guard Peyton Siva said. We’ve been taking antibiotics, and I think everybody is getting their energy back and everybody’s become more upbeat. And Russ stopped coughing on everybody, so I think we’re doing better.
That’s good news for Smith and the Cardinals (32-5), who have been contending with a virus that has been spreading as they prepare to face second-seeded Duke (30-5). The winner advances to the Final Four in Atlanta, and Louisville will need another healthy performance from Smith if it’s going to reach a second straight Final Four.
Some teammates have teased Smith about being the instigator of this nasty cold. Actually, sophomore forward Chane Bahaman took the blame for that Friday night, claiming he was the first to start feeling ill between the end of the Big East tournament and the start of the NCAA tourney.
Smith still managed to go 9 of 16 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free-throw line with two rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block.