Louisville survived its first test.
Russ Smith matched his career high with 31 points to lead three Cardinals in double figures, and top-seeded Louisville showed it can win close games, too, beating Oregon 77-69 on Friday night.
Kevin Ware added 11 and Gorgui Dieng had 10 points and nine rebounds for Louisville, which has won 13 straight. Coach Rick Pitino improved to 11-0 in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
“We dug ourselves a pretty big hole and weren’t able to come back,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Louisville is a very good basketball team and very talented. Smith got going to the basket, and we just never got him slowed down.”
The 12th-seeded Ducks (28-9) at least made a game of it late. After Louisville went up 66-48 with 9:01 left, Oregon made six straight field goals to close to 70-64 — the closest anyone’s been to the Cardinals in a couple of weeks.
But Kevin Ware scored on a layup, and Chane Behanan threw down a monstrous dunk to put the game out of reach. Still, Oregon is only the second team to be within single digits at the buzzer during Louisville’s run.
Louisville (32-5) moves on to play the winner of Michigan State-Duke on Sunday, hoping to advance to the Final Four for the second straight year.
E.J. Singler’s 15 points led five Ducks in double figures, and the Ducks had only 12 turnovers — one fewer than the Cardinals. But Oregon could never recover from its poor first half, when the Ducks were plagued by foul trouble — Johnathan Loyd had three before halftime — and an off night by Damyean Dotson. The freshman was huge in Oregon’s victory over Saint Louis, scoring a career-high 23. But he was 0-for-6 in the first half and didn’t make a field goal until midway through the second. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
“It wasn’t there in the first half,” Arsalan Kazemi said.
The Cardinals were barely tested in either of their first two games, beating North Carolina A&T by 31 and Colorado State by 26. They set an NCAA record with 20 steals against A&T, outrebounded one of the country’s best rebounding teams in Colorado State and left both teams with ugly shooting lines.
But the Cardinals were tested many times Friday night.
Peyton Siva spent the last 15:19 of the first half on the bench after picking up his second foul. But even without their floor general, the Cardinals didn’t miss a beat thanks to Smith. He hit a 3 to spark a 14-3 run that put Louisville up 24-8, and the game seemed to be all but over.
Smith had seven points during the spurt. When he finished the run with a layup, it was Russ Smith 9, Oregon 8.
The Ducks weren’t going away that easily, though. After Luke Hancock’s 3 capped a 12-2 run that put Louisville up 66-48, the Ducks would make six straight field goals. When Dotson knocked down a jumper with 5:12 remaining, it got Oregon within six, the closest it had been since early in the first half.
Closest anyone had been to Louisville since the Big East tournament, actually.
But part of what makes the Cardinals so imposing is their maturity — and their options, which seem endless. Instead of panicking, the Cardinals regrouped and regained control, and the Ducks never threatened again.
Louisville survived its first test.
- College Sports
Jameis Winston wins Heisman Trophy
The Florida State quarterback became the second straight freshman to win the Heisman on Saturday night, earning college football's most prestigious individual award with a performance so spectacular and dominant that even a criminal investigation couldn't derail his candidacy.
Ball State to face Arkansas State in GoDaddy Bowl
Arkansas State will face Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl.
Michigan State shocks Ohio State in Big Ten title game
The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook's 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.
Report: Notre Dame headed to Pinstripe Bowl
Notre Dame plans to accept a bid to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Friday.
- Ravens fall at Trine The Anderson University men's basketball team lost to Trine University 71-48 on Monday night.
Dunham filling new niche at Butler
Shortly after a Madison County boys basketball game during Kellen Dunham's freshman season, a noteworthy former county star marveled at the young shooter's potential once his frame filled out.
Now a sophomore at Butler, Dunham is listed at 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds on the men's basketball team's official roster. And the difference in his size from his days at Pendleton Heights is especially apparent in his upper body.
- Defense saves the day for Butler The Butler Way never wavers. Trailing by 11 early in the second half Saturday at Worthen Arena, the Bulldogs (4-0) used their defense to get back into the game and rally for a 59-58 victory against in-state rival Ball State (2-2).
- Rebuilding Ravens show promise in opening loss Rebuilding years for a college program often involve many ups and downs. The Anderson University women’s basketball team experienced both Saturday during the season opener at O.C. Lewis Gymnasium as the Ravens fell to the Lindenwood Lynx 85-75
- Mike Lopresti: Time running out to impress computers The top three teams in the BCS standings — Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State — don't have byes this Saturday, but maybe the next best thing. In other words, home games with Chattanooga, Idaho and Indiana. Good appetite, guys. But then again, one wrong twitch can be fatal now, since we're slicing logarithms.
- Calvin holds off Ravens 72-58 ANDERSON -- In a game that was really a tale of two halves, Calvin College kept Anderson University at arm's length for a 72-58 triumph here Tuesday night. The Knights defeated AU 98-56 a year ago. "That was just a wasted game for us last season," s
- More College Sports Headlines
- Jameis Winston wins Heisman Trophy