After failing to make the NCAA Tournament a season ago, the University of Louisville opened play in this year’s dance with a bang. Playing at Rupp Arena in Lexington, the sixth-seeded Cardinals built a 12-2 lead over 11th-seeded Stanford before the first media timeout and would control the game throughout, winning 78-58.
Rick Pitino’s Cardinals benefited from balanced scoring and tenacious defense during their opening round game. Five players scored at least eight points, including 10 from freshman Earl Clark, before the end of the first 20 minutes of action and the Cardinals outscored Stanford, which never led in the game, 22-2 off of turnovers in the first half.
Holding a 19-10 lead with 10:42 remaining in the first half, Louisville opened the game up for good with a 22-3 run and held a commanding 46-20 lead at the break. Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa each connected on a pair of three’s and U of L combined to hit 11 free throws during the more than 10 minute run.
The Cardinals, which built it’s largest lead of 33 with 14:41 remaining, continued to dictate the flow of the game during the second half and were never threatened. Five players scored in double-figures, including David Padgett and Edgar Sosa who poured in 16 points each. Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter each added 12 points and Jerry Smith contributed 10.
Louisville shot 49% from the field for the game and connected on 7-of-17 from beyond the three-point arc. Stanford finished with 21 turnovers, which lead to 30 U of L points. Louisville also dominated in the paint, outscoring the Cardinal 36-22.
Louisville will face the Texas A&M/Penn winner on Saturday at Rupp Arena.
NOTES:Rick Pitino is now 32-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, which ranks second among active coaches.
U of L had committed 15 or fewer turnovers in 14 of it's last 15 games.
Louisville is now 7-0 when freshman Derrick Caracter scores in double figures.
Louisville improved to 18-5 in tournament openers since 1979.
The 20 point victory is the largest margin of victory for a 6 seed over an 11 seed since Kansas beat Evansville 95-74 in 1999.
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