- Dana O'Neil, ESPN Senior Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- A quick look at No. 1 overall seed Louisville’s 77-69 win against No. 12 seed Oregon in the Midwest Regional semifinal.
Overview: It wasn’t exactly textbook. The pressure came in dribs and drabs; the lead ebbed and flowed, but Louisville is one step away from a return trip to the Final Four anyway.
In easily their toughest (and only) test of this NCAA tournament, the Cards worked a little harder and a little differently than they may have liked. Oregon was fairly careful with the basketball, turning it over just 12 times, allowing the Cards to generate just 14 points off turnovers.
But in this tournament, teams have to be able to win in all sorts of ways, and the Cardinals did just that.
Turning point: Naturally it came down to a steal. What else would it be for Louisville? With Oregon, which refused to go away the entire game, Wayne Blackshear swiped the ball out of the hands of a driving Dominic Artis, stopping Oregon’s last threat.
To their credit, the Ducks never went away. After what looked to be a dagger run by Louisville midway in the second half, Oregon came back with a sprint of its own, cutting the lead to six points on a Damyean Dotson pull-up jumper. But Kevin Ware, who was critical in the first half filling in for foul-plagued Peyton Siva, scored on a sweet drive to the hoop to make it 72-64. E.J. Singler missed a 3-pointer on one possession, and on the next, Blackshear stripped Artis on a drive to the hoop. The Ducks never threatened again.
Key player: Russ Smith. The guard was everywhere, scoring right-handed, left-handed, on floaters, jumpers and wild layups. The one-man show ended up tying his career high with 31 points.
Key stat: The Cardinals sliced and diced their way through the Oregon defense to the tune of a 42-34 advantage in points in the paint.
What's next: Louisville advances to Sunday’s Elite Eight game against Duke. It’s the Cards’ fourth regional final appearance in the past six years.