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April 6, 2013

FAST REACT: Louisville beats Wichita State




No. 1 seed and tournament favorite Louisville and 9-seed Wichita State squared off in the first national semifinal at the 2013 Final Four. Louisville escaped with a come-from-behind 72-68 win.

ROUGH FIRST HALF
The Cardinals trailed for much of the first half, falling behind 8-0 in the first 3:24. Louisville didn't score until a layup by Russ Smith with 14:54 left in the first half.

That layup sparked a 9-0 run over the next 2:11 that saw Louisville go from down by eight to ahead by one. But two seconds after Louisville took its first lead of the game, Wichita took the lead right back on a layup by Nick Wiggins.

The lead changed eight times and the score was tied four times in the first half.

SECOND HALF START
The Shockers extended their lead from 26-25 at the half to 39-31 at the 15:31 mark. Wichita State led 43-32 at the 14:16 mark of the second half.

Louisville continued to struggle with Wichita's defense, and the Cardinals racked up fouls on more than half of the possession during the first eight minutes of the second half.

"We weren't that concerned with it," Peyton Siva said. "... We just knew we had to stick together. Coach P. told us we had to continue to go out there and have fun. We're going to win. We're going to win. That's what he kept repeating to us. We believed it. We know we came back from other deficits. He told us to stop hanging our head, he knew tis was going to be a dogfight from the beginning."

When Gorgui Dieng picked up his third foul with 13:15 left, Louisville trailed 47-35. Dieng was whistled for his fourth foul two possessions later, and Stephan Van Treese had to check in for Dieng with 12:28 left.

HENDERSON'S BIG SHOTS
A three by Tim Henderson cut the margin back to single digits at 47-38. Another three by Tim Henderson cut the margin to six, 47-41.

A driving layup by Luke Hancock cut the margin to 50-45 with 9:54 left. And the Cardinals cut the margin to 50-47 on a pair of free throws by Chane Behanan with 9:21 left.

Before Behanan's second free throw, the crowd stood and applauded Tim Henderson as he was replaced in the game by Wayne Blackshear.

"Tim hits shots all the time," Luke Hancock said. "It wasn't shocking for us for him to knock down shots like that. I'm just really happy for him and proud of him."

HANCOCK COMES UP BIG
The junior forward transferred to Louisville from George Mason, and was made a team captain before he ever stepped foot on the court in a real game.

Rick Pitino praised his poise, leadership and smart basketball play. All of that and more was on display in the past two Louisville wins.

Against Duke, it was Luke Hancock who stepped up and prayed over Kevin Ware, calming him and - Ware says - allowing him to tell his team to go win the game.

Against Wichita State, Hancock's steady hand led to Louisville's win. Sure, Russ Smith scored 21 points to lead all scorers, but Hancock had 20 points, four rebounds, two steals and was 6 of 9 from the floor and 3 of 5 from three point range.

"Obviously I knew it wasn't my night," Russ Smith said. "But I was just so happy to see everyone else contributing for us to win. It was so special. I really can't put it into any words for us."

PITINO IS ONE STEP CLOSER
Rick Pitino is one step closer to becoming the first coach to ever win championships with two different schools. With tonight's win, Pitino joined four other coaches who have led two different programs to the national title game: Frank McGuire (St. John's in 1952 and North Carolina in 1957), Larry Brown (UCLA in 1981 and Kansas in 1988), Roy Williams (Kansas in 1991 and 2003 and North Carolina in 2005 and 2009), and John Calipari (Memphis in 2008 and Kentucky in 2012).

BEHANAN COMES ALIVE
After a dismal first half, Chane Behanan finished the game with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. He was 3 of 5 from the floor and 4 of 4 from the foul line.

THE BIGS GOT BUSTED
Coming into the game, most analysts thought Louisville would have a big advantage in the post with All-Big East center Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell.

But Wichita State out-rebounded Louisville 36-33 and beat the Cardinals on points in the paint 30-26. Shocker star Cleanthony Early scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.


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