Louisville 75 NC State 65
MBB: Louisville has now won seven of its last eight regional semifinal games, including a 6-1 mark under Coach Rick Pitino. #L1C4
— Louisville Athletics (@GoCards) March 28, 2015
NC State really wilted down the stretch. Way too many empty possessions and Louisville had two guys step up big-time in Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell. Rozier had 17 points and Harrell finished with 24 on 9-12 shooting. State finally got contributions in the second half from a handful of other players, but the trio cooled off significantly. Trevor Lacey put up a team-high 18 points, Ralston Turner scored 12 in his final college game and Cat Barber had just eight. The Cardinals advance to face the winner of Michigan State and Oklahoma.
Rozier Rebounds: 14 (game-high)
Unrelated note but to tie a bow on Uncle Verne, he had at least a dozen “Oh my gosh!” moments down the stretch and for some reason thought Terry Rozier was doing a postgame interview with the NC State radio crew. I can’t wait to hear him taking naps in the tower behind the 16th green at Augusta.
Rick Pitino decided to give NC State a taste of its own medicine by going small after Blackshear’s fourth foul and the three guard lineup is proving successful with Louisville up seven with three minutes remaining. Terry Rozier has pulled off the unusual double-double for a guard with 13 points and 12 rebounds, plus a chance for a free throw when we start things up again. The trio needs to start making plays for State but it’s too early to rely solely on threes.
Fouls are starting to add up as Wayne Blackshear now has four. Chinanu Onuaku has three as does Lennard Freeman and the red hot Kyle Washington (11 points). Suddenly, NC State just rattled off a nice little run to retake the lead 54-53 with 7:12 remaining. Trevor Lacey has a strong 16 points and State is 8-16 from 3-point range but just 11-33 from two. Harrell leads everyone with 19 points. The Wolfpack lead the rebounding battle 32-26.
A 14-2 Cardinal run forced Mark Gottfried to call a timeout suddenly down 45-41. The pace has really picked up in the second half and so far the State defense is lapsing. Harrell has 17 points but freshman Quentin Snider has pitched in a sneaky 10. Kyle Washington now has eight points for the Wolfpack and he’ll be at the line when we return from the under 12 timeout. Uncle Verne is getting really excited down the stretch. His random yelling must drive the guy in the production truck handling the sound levels nuts. 47-45 Louisville on top.
Rozier Rebounds: 11
Cat Barber has come out firing in the second half knocking down two threes to push the lead to 39-33 early before Louisville came storming back to cut it to 39-38 on the back of Montrezl Harrell who is now fully primed. He’s got 15 points and just threw down a powerful dunk that elicited a forceful “OH YEAH!” from Verne Lundquist (Did you know his real first name is Merton? Neither did I).
Rozier Rebounds: 10
PACK LEADING 33-31 AT HALFTIME pic.twitter.com/hmdmpftw9X
— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) March 28, 2015
What a flurry of 3-pointers in the final minute. Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner both nailed outside shots for State and Terry Rozier answered on the other end. That leaves us with a 33-31 NC State lead at the break. Lacey leads all scorers with 12 points though just four players have scored for the Wolfpack, the trio of guards and role-player Kyle Washington. They really need some more scoring even if it’s only a basket here or there. Louisville has no one in double-figures but they’re 13-26 (50%) from the field versus 11-31 (35.5%) for State.
2 fouls on Kyle now. He and Nard both with 2 fouls.
— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) March 28, 2015
Kyle Washington gave State a nice little spark off the bench with four quick points to cut the Cardinal lead to 22-21. Harrell now has seven points after a strong inside shot and made free throw. He appears to be really fired up. Now he just nailed a running hook in the lane. He and Trevor Lacey are tied for the scoring lead with nine each. The two fouls on Washington and Lennard Freeman hurt in the post role player department but despite the feeling (to me at least) that Louisville is in control, they’re only up 28-27 with 2:53 left in the first half. Jim Boeheim appears to be messing with the clock as we’ve had multiple timekeeping errors.
Rozier Rebounds: 8
Louisville has made 7 of its last 8 FGs.
NC State has missed 8 of its last 9 FGs.
— Pack Pride (@PackPride) March 28, 2015
NC State finally ended a painful drought that saw them without a field goal for nearly six minutes. They’re not only settling for shots but they’ve missed four layups so far. The Rozier rebound watch is up to seven total now while no other player for either team has more than two. Four points and four assists so far for Montrezl Harrell. 22-17 Cardinals on top.
Louisville is taking smarter shots and heating up big time to take an 18-12 lead. Now it’s State’s turn to follow my advice and quit settling for long shots and at least consider getting some paint touches. The Wolfpack are now 4-of-16 from the field while Louisville has cranked it up to 8-14 (57.1%). Wayne Blackshear has eight early points continuing his strong postseason play. Harrell only had seven points in the regular season match up but he’s already got four tonight.
Two early 3-pointers are big for NC State. Both Barber and Ralston Turner have one and Trevor Lacey is 3-of-4 from the field for a game-high seven points at the under 12 timeout. Louisville is into their bad habit of settling for outside shots. They need to get the ball inside and keep it there. Rozier now has six rebounds and Harrell is on the board with a hard-fought layup.
The black waistbands on all these uniforms look silly. Thanks a lot Addidas. NC State is playing some nice defense, though Terry Rozier made that baseline drive look easy. Neither team is shooting well so far with both 2-of-6 from the field. Rozier already has four rebounds and Montrezl Harrell has been quiet. Cat Barber is being aggressive for State which is a good sign. We’ll see if the pace picks up now that the teams have exchanged a few jabs.
Fans starting to fill in about 20 minutes before tipoff: pic.twitter.com/rWJ5HBDkWS
— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) March 27, 2015
For the first time in the ACC’s illustrious basketball history, two conference members will meet in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament when Louisville and NC State take the stage. There’s an added conference flavor when you consider the game is being played on the court inside Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.
NC State won the only meeting between the teams this season 74-65 in Louisville but the stakes are much higher now. The four-seed Cardinals and eight-seed Wolfpack look to join Notre Dame in the Elite Eight with a win and it should be fantastic game.
Rick Pitino is a nearly perfect 11-1 in Sweet 16 games and 52-17 all-time in NCAA Tournament games. Mark Gottfried is no stranger to postseason play as this marks his second Sweet 16 (both with the Wolfpack) and his fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in his fourth season. Everything about this game screams awesome.