Louisville last played against NC State on February 14th, Valentineâ€™s Day. The game left many Cards fans with broken hearts as the Wolfpack won with a score of 74-65. Before the Syracuse game, sophomore guard Terry Rozier said, â€œYou never know what to expect out of them. They make tough shots and play hard on the offensive glass. We prepare and even if we didnâ€™t play them, you see this stuff on the film.â€ Rozier contributed 17 points and 14 rebounds to the game against NC State yesterday.
Leading scorer with 24 points, Montrezl Harrell, matched his career high of four assists in the first half. The junior forward helped the Cards work together to keep the ball moving and wear out NC State. â€œWe worked so hard all season long and took the ups and downs during the season, and we don’t want to go home. Everybody has bought into the mentality that Coach wanted and everybody wants the same goal,â€ said Harrell.
The score went back and forth with a one point lead difference in the second half. After his fourth foul, senior Wayne Blackshear was benched but later returned in what would have been his last game had Louisville been defeated. Sophomore guard Anton Gill replaced him on the court with eight minutes remaining in the game. The Cards were trailing the Wolfpack by one point when Gill picked up the pace with a successful jump shot, later followed by a three pointer. Gill had not scored since the game against Florida State University on February 28.
â€œAnton Gill making that shot was big, and I think we made some great plays down the stretch. And what we just kept talking about is being aggressive offensively,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. “We kept reminding them of the LSU game when they were down 12 and would come back. I said, just stay aggressive.â€ This will be the sixth season that Pitino has led the Cardinals to the Elite 8. He is now in second place for the most regional finals ever made, only behind Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
â€œTo be honest, I never thought we would get this far,” said freshman guard Quentin Snider. “I think the thing is we came together and bonded as a team.â€ Snider noted that the teamâ€™s overall confidence and skills have been increasing with each game.
The number 4 seed Louisville Cardinals will face off against the 7 seed Michigan State Spartans in the Midwest Regional Final this Sunday at 2:20 p.m. in Syracuse.
Photos by Chris Humphreys | The Voice-Tribune