"Their guards completely dominated the game," Wright said. "That's our weakness as a team. We don't have that jet guard that can just break down a defense. ... I think our inexperience as a team definitely showed."
Even when Pinkston appeared to be free for a dunk after Villanova broke the press, Siva sprinted back and slapped the ball out of bounds. Pitino said the Cardinals had 38 deflections by halftime and 58 overall, an all-time high on the special chart his assistants keep.
"That's never happened in my 80 years of coaching. So it was an incredible thing to witness. Very, very active," Pitino said. "I think we were just very intense. We were really quick. We're fast."
Louisville went into the locker room with a 30-21 lead and extended the margin to 20 as Smith scored 11 points in the first 9½ minutes of the second half on a trio of 3s and a fast-break finger roll off his own steal at midcourt.
Pitino's team is wearing new uniforms specially designed for March Madness, featuring a funky print and short sleeves on the jerseys. The Cardinals took to their unusual digs just fine.
Louisville has most of its key players back from last year's Final Four team, and Wright thinks that gives the Cardinals a big edge.
"This team could win a national championship." Wright said. "You take their talent and then put on top of that the fact that they've been there, that experience is so valuable."
Louisville certainly looked like one of the best teams in the country down the stretch, winning its last seven regular-season games. The Cardinals, who came in forcing 18.5 turnovers per game, have won six straight and eight of nine at Madison Square Garden.
Villanova beat St. John's 66-53 in its tournament opener Wednesday night to reach 20 wins for the eighth time in nine seasons.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.