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INDIANAPOLIS – At precisely the wrong time, the Louisville starting backcourt has gotten sick.
Point guard Peyton Siva said he thought he's in the early stages of strep throat and started taking an antibiotic Friday. His voice was thick and froggy after the Cardinals' 77-69 victory over Oregon Friday night in a NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game.
Shooting guard Russ Smith said he's running a fever – which didn't stop him from scoring a career-high-tying 31 points on the Ducks. Nothing has stopped Smith this NCAA tournament (81 points in three games).
"Russ is sickest," Louisville forward Chane Behanan said.
Siva and Smith, along with center Gorgui Dieng, are the most important players on the Louisville team, so their health will be of paramount importance going forward.
"I sort of had to prod our guys the entire night," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "Unfortunately, Russ has infected our entire team with a ridiculous cold, and all our guys are really sick. And it took a lot out of us because Oregon's so good. When Peyton got in foul trouble, Russ had to play way too many minutes, and everybody's coughing and hacking at every timeout.
"We just had to get our guys through it, and hopefully we'll get better. The only problem is on every timeout Russ is hacking in our faces."
Said Smith: "What Coach said is right on cue. I'm terribly sick. I just kept coughing."
Asked further about his illness, Smith said, "I wouldn't say I'm terribly sick, because there's like people more terribly sick than me. But I was pretty sick where it affected my conditioning to a point. But Coach been telling me to fight through it, fight through it, dig in. My teammates as well. I mean, I'm not the only one. There's been a few. …"
The Cardinals won't have much time to convalesce. They will play Sunday afternoon for the Midwest Regional championship, trying to make their second straight Final Four.
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