Score: No. 1 Louisville 72, No. 9 Wichita State 68
Star(s):Louisville: Luke Hancock 21 Pts, 4 Reb, 2 Ast.
Story: Let's all be honest. When Gorgui Dieng said that this was going to be an ugly game in the press conference before the tip-off, many people thought he was playing up Wichita State's talent, something Rick Pitino has been known to do.
But when WSU came on the court, what Dieng said was no understatement. The Shockers opened with an 8-0 run. Louisville finally snapped into playing mode, but the entire first half showed a Wichita State team handling pressure better than any other team had all season. It was obvious that Gregg Marshall and his team came prepared, and it would certainly be an ugly game.
The Shockers wouldn't let Louisville drive it in the lane either. The ease that Russ Smith and Peyton Siva usually take with them to the basket was absent, and neither could finish. It would take Luke Hancock until the second half to finally manage to get it inside. The Shockers forced U of L offense to the outside - 13 of the Cards 20 field goal attempts at the half were 3-point shots. Louisville. What?
Nothing good happened for Louisville in the second half for a good five minutes. That is no exaggeration. But when there were seven minutes to go, the game finally went in the Cardinal's favor. The idea of forcing turnovers had seemingly been left in the 502, but the Cardinals finally forced one - the first in 20 minutes - and the cardiac Cards were back.
A Luke Hancock three followed, cutting the deficit to just one point. It was fitting that he made the three that changed the momentum, because his court sense had kept U of L in the game all night. The Cards moved ahead and stayed there, ending the game with a controversial jump ball call.
I'll take it. Louisville hasn't been to a title game since 1986 when the team won it all.
Time to repeat history.