After leading 35-29 at the half, Louisville found itself in foul trouble, with Montrezl Harrell and Russ Smith both four, and trailing 58-55 with under 4 minutes to play. A three-pointer by Smith following the media timeout tied the game and Luke Hancock, reminding everyone how he earned last the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award, hit a pair of trifectas to fuel a 10-4 run that secured the program's 30th victory.
The Cardinals struggled offensively throughout the second half, hitting just 4 of 18 field goal attempts prior to the game's final four minutes. However, the defending National Champions were perfect down the stretch, connecting on 4 of 5 from the floor and 5 of 6 from the free throw line to claim a 71-64 victory.
Russ Smith led the Cardinals with 18 points, with Luke Hancock next with 16. Montrezl Harrell recorded another double-double, recording 13 rebounds and 12 points. Chris Jones, who was a perfect 6-of-6 from free line, added 11 points.
With this victory, this team becomes the 8th in school history to win 30 or more games in a season. If history is an indicator, good fortunes lay ahead for the Cardinals. 6 of the previous 7 teams to win 30 or more advanced to the Final Four, with three winning the championship. The other reached the Elite 8.
Louisville advances to face Saint Louis in the round of 32. Tipoff for Saturday's game is slated for 2:45 p.m.
Stay tuned to Cardinal Authority for continuing coverage from Orlando.