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Friday, March 11, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Louisville 81, Marquette 56

By Ian Begley

Recap | Box score | Photos

NEW YORK -- A quick take on No. 3 seed Louisville’s 81-56 win over No. 10 seed Marquette on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden:

WHAT IT MEANS: Louisville did it to Marquette again. On Jan. 15, the Cardinals rallied from an 18-point deficit in the final 5:44 to stun the Golden Eagles in a 71-70 win. It was a little easier for Louisville on Thursday night. Louisville held Marquette to 29.8 percent shooting and hit 13-of-31 from beyond the arc to overwhelm the Golden Eagles. The Cardinals will face No. 2 seed Notre Dame in the tournament semifinal on Friday night. Louisville lost in the second round of the conference tournament last season. They won the whole thing in 2010. Marquette, which reached the Big East semifinals in 2010 and 2008, finishes the season at 20-14. The Golden Eagles are expected to be one of a record 11 Big East teams to make the NCAA tournament.

THE SKINNY: Both teams shot under 40 percent in the first half, but Louisville took a 36-31 lead into the locker room on the strength of six three-pointers. The Cardinals’ lead ballooned to 12 at the 13:53 mark thanks to a Mike Marra 3-pointer -- his fifth of the night. The Golden Eagles couldn’t muster a response, shooting just 2-of-9 to open the half. After Preston Knowles knocked down a 3-pointer with 6:41 to play to put Louisville up 18, Marquette coach Buzz Williams called timeout, the only thing he could do to slow down the Cardinals’ shooters on Thursday night. Knowles added another 3-pointer with just under two minutes to play gave the Cardinals a 25-point lead.

STAR WATCH: Louisville’s Marra finished with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including six makes from beyond the arc. Knowles finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Marquette’s Jimmy Butler had 14 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

NUMBER CRUNCH: Louisville loves to shoot the 3 -- the Cardinals finished the regular season ninth in the country in makes per game (8.8) and 10th in attempts (24.0). That continued on Thursday night. They shot 12 free-throws and 31 from beyond the arc. Nearly half (39) of their 81 points came from 3-pointers. The Cardinals also continued their strong play of late on the defensive end. Marquette was the sixth straight Cardinals foe to shoot under 40 percent.

WHAT’S NEXT: Louisville will face No. 2 seed Notre Dame, which boasts Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough, who had 23 points in the Irish’s 89-51 win over Cincinnati. Hansbrough poured in a team-high 25 points in Notre Dame’s 89-79 overtime home win over Louisville on Feb. 9.