Mar 29, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Chane Behanan (21) reacts in the first half during the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament against the Oregon Ducks at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Game Recap: Cards Beat Oregon, Advance to Elite Eight

Mar 29, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino reacts in the second half during the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2013 NCAA tournament against the Oregon Ducks at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Well they did it.  The Cards did it.  After beating Oregon 77-69 in the Sweet Sixteen tonight, they have successfully completed step three of a six-step process.  The Sweet Sixteen is almost over, and the Louisville Cardinals were one of the eight teams to come out still fighting for their shot at a national title.  Now Louisville will wait to see who they’ll face in the Elite Eight-the Michigan State Spartans or the Duke Blue Devils.

Coming into tonight’s game, many knew Oregon was vastly underrated.  Oregon didn’t start off playing like a team that had something to prove in tonight’s game.  Oregon came out looking like an adequately-rated 12 seed whose tournament run was all but over.  Right out of the gate, Louisville was hitting.  They weren’t doing too much defensively though, due to the fact that this game was called very tight and Siva picked up two fouls and was sitting VERY early in the game.  Louisville had to put Ware in and quickly back off their signature press.  Louisville then proceeded to shift to an offensive game oriented on post production.  Dieng, Hancock, Behanan, and Smith were all able to penetrate well against an Oregon frontcourt that seemed very eager to sit back and let Louisville have their way with them.  At the end of the first half, the Cards had made two baskets from outside of the paint.  They absolutely dominated Oregon on the inside, while at the same time, Oregon couldn’t buy a bucket from anywhere on the court.  In the first half, they went on a five minute stretch of not scoring a single point.  That wasn’t even due to a stellar Louisville defense, just the fact that Louisville couldn’t hit.  At the half, Louisville was up 45-31.  Coach Pitino even said going into the locker room that “We’re not playing good defense.  That’s just not Louisville basketball.  We’re gonna go in the locker room and come back out playing defense.”

Little did Louisville and Coach Pitino know that they wouldn’t have their way with Oregon much longer.  Oregon came back out and began to go on small little runs of their own.  Louisville would then answer with a run, and the two teams would go back and forth.  Oregon just refused to go away.  Louisville had so many opportunities to close out this game, yet they just couldn’t.  Oregon wouldn’t go down.  Louisville’ was able to keep up a fiery offense  unlike any they’ve played for quite some time.  They were able to keep pulling out ahead of Oregon and eventually staved off enough Oregon runs to win 77-69.

So here we are, the Elite Eight.  Will Louisville step up to the occasion and beat Duke/Michigan State?  Or will Louisville crumble under the hype?  They’re the only one seed left in the tourney, so they’re controlling their own destiny at this point.  Will that destiny continue with greatness?  We shall see come Sunday night.  Go Cards.

Game Notes:

 

  • Louisville had more turnovers than Oregon tonight; 13 as opposed to the Ducks’ 12.
  • Eric Crawford just tweeted this:
  • Russ Smith tied a career-high 31 points tonight, scoring a total of 81 points in 3 tournament games so far, leading many to be saying that he’s the favorite so far for tourney MOP.
  • Pitino is now 11-0 all time in Sweet 16 games (5-0) with Louisville.  This eight point win was the closest victory of the 11 he’s had.
  • Russ said he was only at about 70% tonight due to his sickness.  If THAT’s 70% Russ, I can’t wait to see 100% Russ.
  • If you’re a Louisville fan, you’re definitely hoping for a close game tonight between MSU and Duke.  Hopefully one where they beat each other down and ultimately go into an OT or two (that’s in a perfect world).
  • Dana Altman is still a very good and underrated coach.  Since everyone else in the world has turned down UCLA, they could look at him…I’m just conjecturing here.

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Tags: Basketball Louisville Basketball Louisville Cardinals NCAA Tournament Russ Smith

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