NCAA Basketball: Louisville Survive Against Wichita State, While Michigan Edge Syracuse

on April 07 2013 4:07 AM
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Tim Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with two three-pointers in the second half. Reuters

And then there were two.

No. 1 seed Louisville were able outlast No. 9 seed Wichita State despite the tough interior presence of Cleanthony Early, while No. 4 seed Michigan were able to hold off a late run by No. 4 seed Syracuse, as the national title game is set for Monday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Louisville trailed for much of Saturday's contest, but were able to force some key turnovers and earn a win over a resilient Wichita State squad, 72-68. The Cardinals were led by Luke Hancock, who scored 20 points on six-of-nine shooting.

Early gave Louisville fits in the paint. The junior forward scored 24 points on eight-of-14 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds. Early hit some crucial tip shots in the second half to keep Wichita State close.

The Shockers led by 12 points with 13 minutes remaining, but then the Cardinals made their run. Tim Henderson knocked down two three-pointers to cut the lead in half, and then Rick Pitino's squad began to slowly chip away late in the second half to hold off the streaking Shockers.

Louisville starters Gorqui Dieng, Peyton Siva, and Wayne Blackshear scored a combined seven points on just one field goal in 11 attempts.

"There's a reason our starters played poorly, because Wichita State is that good," said Pitino.

Michigan opened up an 11-point lead before the half, and were able to stave off Syracuse chipping away at it in the final 20 minutes to squeeze out the win, 61-56.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored eight of Michigan's 25 points in the second half. Mitch McGary was clearly the best rebounder on the floor, with the freshman big man pulling down 12 boards for the evening.

The Orange received a strong effort from C.J. Fair. The junior forward hit nine of his 20 shots to finish with 22 points, and helped Syracuse cut into the Wolverines' lead.

"I thought we got off to a really bad start defensively in the first half," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "We just didn't have the movement that we've had, and Michigan took advantage of it. Our offense was not good in the first half or the second half. Second half, we got our defense going a lot better, and got back in the game in spite of our offense."

This is Michigan's first trip to the NCAA title game since 1993, while Louisville returns to the championship game for the first time since winning the title in 1986.

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