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
Big Ten commissioner paints dire picture of paying players
The head of the Big Ten painted a dire picture Friday of what college sports would look like if players were paid. He said his conference likely would cease to exist and the Rose Bowl probably would not be played.
Mike Lopresti: Hoosiers' high hopes end in heartbreak
Caring comes with a catch; how lousy it feels to lose. Indiana University was just reminded of that.
- Mike Lopresti: Hoosiers bitten by fickle fate They said they're not shattered. They said they'll be back, as surely as Monday follows Sunday. They said this was one loss, and that happens in baseball.
AU softball team loses two to end season
The Anderson University bats fell silent in day two of the NCAA Division III softball regional and as a result, the Ravens are headed home, finishing the season at 30-9.
Frazier's slam lifts AU into regional second round
Anderson University junior Nichole Frazier hit a walk-off grand slam home run in the seventh inning to lift the Ravens to a 9-5 victory over Fontbonne Friday.
Utah president backs review of fight song
After more than a century of singing "I'm a Utah Man," some say it's time to update the University of Utah's 1904 fight song.
- Ravens softball team heads to Illinois for regionals The Anderson University softball team, fresh off winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference season and tournament titles, Monday morning learned of its next hurdle.
- Ravens dump Bluffton, win HCAC softball title All of them had a shot. All of them went down in flames. The Anderson University softball team finished as dominating a performance as the conference has seen in a while with a 13-4 victory over Bluffton to win the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament here Saturday.
AU unbeaten in tourney
The Ravens posted a 4-1 win over Transylvania in the opening contest and then buried the Rose-Hulman Engineers with their own poorly designed shovels 12-3 in the nightcap.
- AU top seeds in HCAC softball tourney Anderson University's softball team has dominated the regular season of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference but the Ravens know that is no guarantee for the tournament.
- More College Sports Headlines
- Big Ten commissioner paints dire picture of paying players