Post Game Wrap Up
Coming into the game, coach Rick Pitino knew that this Oregon team was highly under seeded. Starting out the game, Louisville forced turnovers early and attacked the paint, with all 10 of their first points coming from the paint. Peyton Siva was in early foul trouble and had to sit down. It appeared that the Cardinals would struggle without Siva, however it was the opposite. The Louisville bench stepped up and players like Kevin Ware and Luke Hancock filled in the gap, as the Cards got up to a 24-8 lead early. As time ticked down, Oregon began to chop away at the lead. The Ducks went into the locker room, starving for a sign of life, down 45-31.
The second half started no differently than the first. Oregon trying to push the ball, and Louisville going to the free throw line. The Cardinals caught fire about halfway through the second half, going up as much as 16 before forcing coach Dana Altman to call a timeout. Russ Smith was the main fuel for the fire throughout the game, totaling 31 points and 3 assists. Oregon went on a 12-2 run to cut the lead within 8. With 5 players scoring in double digits, the Ducks came with a spread out attack. Both teams then began to trade baskets, momentum swinging both ways. The experience for Louisville paid dividend for the Cards in the end, as knowing how to manage the game proved to be a pivotal point. With a majority red crowd, Oregon was helpless as the clock ran out in favor of the other team. The scoreboard read 69 – 77 as the two teams shook hands at midcourt, fans applauding not only Louisville’s efforts, but the Ducks of Oregon as well.
While Oregon wasn’t favored to win the game, the Ducks did manage to gain a respect that was not initially given to them. They will go home accomplishing a trip to the sweet sixteen, and hope to build off this run next year. Rick Pitino will remain perfect in the sweet sixteen, with a whopping record of 11-0 in the round. The Cards never relinquished the lead to Oregon and proved to be the better squad. Louisville will advance to the elite eight and will face the winner of the Duke/Michigan State battle on Sunday, time TBA at a later date.