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Saturday, March 12, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Louisville 83, Notre Dame 77

By Ian Begley

NEW YORK -- Here's a quick take on Louisville's 83-77 overtime win over No. 2 seed Notre Dame in the Big East tournament:

WHAT IT MEANS: Louisville is one win away from its second Big East championship in three years. To claim it, the Cardinals will have to top Kemba Walker and UConn for the third time this season.

Louisville rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit and outlasted Notre Dame in overtime to punch its ticket to the final. Walker led UConn to the championship game with 33 points, 12 rebounds and six steals in a 76-71 overtime against Syracuse.

Notre Dame (26-6) came in red-hot, winner of 12 of its last 13, but let a 10-point lead slip away in the final 9:30. Ben Hansbrough, the Big East Player of the Year, struggled on Friday, finishing with 13 points on 3-of-16 shooting.

THE SKINNY: Louisville held Marquette to 29 percent shooting on Thursday. But the Cards couldn't do the same early on against Notre Dame, which built a 14-point lead at halftime on the strength of 56.7 percent shooting from the floor and 13 points from Scott Martin.

Louisville battled back, cutting its deficit to two on a Kyle Kuric 3-pointer with 4:20 to play. Hansbrough missed two free throws and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions, and two Preston Knowles free throws tied the game with 2:47 to play.

Big man Terrence Jennings came up huge in the extra session. His layup with 2:05 to go put Louisville up, 80-77. He knocked down two free throws with nine seconds to play to seal the deal.

STAR WATCH: Knowles led Louisville with 20 points. He finished 6-of-6 from the line, knocking down several clutch free throws in the final minutes.
Peyton Siva had 15 and Jennings had 16. Martin finished with 21 for the Irish.

NUMBERS CRUNCH: Notre Dame has shot better than 50 percent in four of its past five games, including hitting 56 percent of its shots in a blowout win over Cincinnati. It failed to reach that mark on Friday, hitting just 43 percent from the floor. Louisville also outrebounded the Irish, 49-35.

WHAT'S NEXT: Can Louisville and Knowles slow down Walker? The Huskies guard has willed UConn to the championship game. But Connecticut will be playing its fifth game in five days on Saturday night. Will the Huskies have enough gas to keep up with the Cards?