And Then There Were 4!
In one of the most anticipated games of the year, the energy was through the roof in Lucas Oil Stadium for the colossal match up of these two power house programs. With the crowd in majority red, Louisville won the opening tip and attacked the paint early. Chane Behanan was one of the early go getters for the Cards, finishing the game with 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist. Duke however managed to spread the ball around and find the open man, going back and forth all throughout the first half. The major story was when Kevin Ware attempted to block a shot and landed awkwardly, resulting in one of the most grueling sports injuries to ever happen on a basketball court. Players fell to the ground in sickness, and a stretcher was brought out for Ware. With all of Indianapolis cheering as he left, the Cardinals regrouped and managed to hold Duke to 0 field goals in the last 4:43 of the half, as Rick Pitino’s squad took a 35-32 lead at the half.
The second half started with a bang for Louisville, coming out hot on the offensive and defensive end. However it was Duke’s Seth Curry that knocked down two 3 pointers to pull the score even. Curry finished with 12 points. Foul trouble was a key in the second half, with a combined 5 players with over 3 fouls only 5 minutes into the second half. With the game tied at 42, Louisville went on a short 7-0 run to take a 47-42 lead with 13:32 left, forcing Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski to call a time out. The lead grew to double digits with all momentum swinging to the Cardinals, lead by Peyton Siva. When the under 8:00 timeout came around, Duke trailed 64-48. The Blue Devil woes continued on offense, as a stretch of over 10 minutes occurred with only one field goal made. Reaching for hope of a comeback to get his team to the Final Four, Coach K called another timeout, this time with 4:30 left down 16 points. With contributors from all position, the main spark came from the back court tandem of Russ Smith ( 23 pts, 2 rbs,) and Peyton Siva ( 16 pts, 2 rbs, 4 ast).
When the clock hit 0:00, emotion over came everybody in red. Louisville had just defeated Duke, and punched their ticket to the Final Four. They rallied around each other in critical times and played as a team to get where they are now. Previously losing to Duke early in the year without Gorgui Dieng, the Cardinals fought with every ounce of soul in their body to prove yet again that they were the number one overall seed. In the post game interview, coach Rick Pitino was asked about Ware, in which he replied: “We won it for him.” Louisville will play Wichita State on Saturday for a spot in the national championship game, at 6:09