Buzzer beaters and overtime games generally get all the attention in March because they thrill college basketball fans, but every now and then there are jaw-dropping results of another kind that just can't be ignored.
Defending national champion Louisville provided one example Thursday in its opening game in the American Athletic Conference tournament routing Rutgers 92-31. Yes folks, that's a 61-point margin of victory in a conference game.
Louisville led 58-16 at halftime and could have gone scoreless in the entire second half and still won by 28 points. The Courier-Journal reported it was the most lopsided conference game in the nation this season.
The betting line on the game beforehand had Louisville favored by 18.5 points. The Cardinals covered the sprea by more than 40.
This will be the only conference tournament game in AAC history between these two because each is headed for a different league next season after just one season in the conference. Louisville moves to the ACC and Rutgers will be in the Big Ten going forward but the game between them Thursday is likely to linger awhile in the AAC record books.
Rutgers committed 17 turnovers in the first half and scored only 16 points. It finished with 26 turnovers, more than doubling its 12 made field goals. We should note that Louisville is known for its tough-minded defensive play and creating turnovers, but even the Cardinals aren't used to the kind of success they had against the Scarlet Knights. They finished with 19 steals.
Like most basketball coaches, Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been on the wrong side of these games in the past and he shared his approach to getting over them.
Pitino on losing lopsided games: "It's the time where you go right to the bar, forget the game, have a drink and get ready for next year."— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) March 13, 2014
Rutgers didn't have a single player score in double figures. Eight players combined to score those 31 points. Junior guard Myles Mack led the Scarlet Knights with eight. Louisville had five players score in double figures. Guard Chris Jones had 18.
Rutgers actually led 7-6 at one point early in the game but was outscored 86-24 the rest of the way. Louisiville is pursuing its third straight conference tournament title. The previous two were won in the old Big East Conference. Louisville will play Houston in the semifinals Friday.
It was the worst of several eye-catching lopsided scores from conference tournament games around the nation on Thursday. No. 4 ranked Arizona beat unranked Utat 71-39 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas and San Diego State throttled Utah State 73-39 in the Mountain West Confernece tournament also in Las Vegas.
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