ATLANTA -- A quick look at Louisville’s 72-68 victory over Wichita State on Saturday in the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
Overview: It shouldn’t be easy to get to the national championship game, right? And it wasn’t for the overall No. 1 seed. The Cardinals overcame not just Wichita State but themselves to advance to the national title game.
Credit the bench for this victory.
Turning point: Unable to force Wichita State into any mistakes, the Cardinals finally caught the Shockers in the backcourt with less than seven minutes to play, forcing their first turnover in nearly 20 minutes of play. It led to a Hancock 3-pointer from the wing to turn what was once a 12-point Wichita State lead into a one-point Cardinals edge. Rattled, the ninth-seeded Shockers (30-9) continued to cough it up as Louisville kept up the pressure.
Key player: Hancock. Without Ware, Hancock was pressed into action in the backcourt and handled it like he was built to play there. He managed to get into the lane, a feat neither Siva nor Russ Smith succeeded at much, but didn’t give up on his long-distance game. Hancock finished with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a crucial forced jump ball in the final seconds to seal the win.
Key stat: Wichita State went from 13:04 of the first half to the 6:42 mark of the second half without a turnover, but then the wheels spun off in a hurry. The Shockers finished with 10, seven in those final 6:42, and that little bit is all the Cardinals needed.
Next: Louisville (34-5) advances to the national championship game for the first time since 1986, where it will face Michigan.