Louisville NCAA Rewind: March 29th

Matthew McGavic

With the 2020 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament cancelled, Louisville Report will go back in time to recap all of the University of Louisville men's basketball's NCAA Tournament games from each date in March and early April. Special thanks to Sports-Reference.com for boxscores and the Courier-Journal for newspaper archives.

Louisville's March 29th NCAA Tournament Record: 2-4

1975: UCLA defeats Louisville 75-74 (OT)

With the prospect of a national title matchup against their arch rival looming large, the AP No. 1 UCLA Bruins denied Louisville that opportunity, as the fourth-ranked Cardinals were taken down by just one point in overtime in the Final Four.

Louisville was well within victory's reach, leading the Bruins by four with less than a minute to go. A last-ditch rally by UCLA tied the game up, with John Wooden's squad nearly winning in regulation.

When overtime started, once again Louisville had the upper hand. Up by one with 20 seconds to go, all UofL guard Terry Howard had to do was sink one free throw. He missed, and UCLA would nail the go ahead jumper on the other end in the closing seconds.

However the biggest storyline of this game didn't happen on the court. In the locker room after the game, UCLA head coach John Wooden announced to his players that he would be retiring following the championship game against Kentucky, which the Bruins won 92-85.

Allen Murphy led all scorers with 33 on 14-28 shooting, with Junior Bridgeman only able to chip in 12 points, albeit with 15 rebounds.

1986: Louisville defeats Louisiana State 88-77

Overcoming a lackluster first half of play with a dominant second half, the No. 2 seeded Cardinals avoided an upset against the eleventh-seeded LSU Tigers and advanced to their second title game in program history.

The first 20 minutes of play by Louisville was so underwhelming that head coach Denny Crum went as far to say that they looked like they had never been coached. By halftime, the Tigers had shot 57.1 from the field and Cards had turned it over nine times to trail by eight.

"I think that was our worst half of the entire year," Louisville center Pervis Ellison said.

Once the team reconvened after the intermission, the shoe was on the other foot. The Cards turned up the heat, shooting 63.9% in the second half to bring their game total to 55.9%. Ball movement was much more fluid, with Louisville tallying 26 assists on 38 made field goals. 

The defense stepped up as well. LSU leading scorer John Williams was only able to come away with two second half points, after scoring 12 in the first half. Louisville didi a better job crashing the boards as well, winning the rebounding battle 23-16 in the final 20 minutes after both teams were tied at 18 a piece at halftime.

In all, five Louisville players finished in double figures with Billy Thompson & Milt Wagner each having 22. Thompson & Ellison had double doubles on rebounds, with Wagner having one on assists.

2008: North Carolina defeats Louisville 83-73

With a trip to the Final Four on the line, a myriad of variables proved too much to overcome despite a second half comeback, as the No. 3 seeded Cardinals fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Heading into this game, Louisville knew it would be an uphill battle. UNC was the top-overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels had AP Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough at their disposal, and the game was being played in their home state of North Carolina.

All those factors combined, and Louisville didn't exactly have the smoothest start. Turnovers led to 12 fast break points from UNC point guard Ty Lawson in the first half to negate the UofL press defense, the Heels had more offensive rebounds than UofL had overall boards in the first 12 minutes.

But Louisville wasn't going down without a fight. The Cards connected on 10 of their first 16 shots out of halftime, eventually tying things up at 59 a piece with 10:21 to go.

Unfortunately, turnovers and poor shooting came back to bite Louisville. From the moment they tied the game, they committed turnovers on half of their next 12 possessions and made just one field goal. Meanwhile on the other end, Hansbrough would be the dagger as he would connect on a pair of jumpers in the final three minutes despite stout defense from Louisville. He finished with a game high 28 points and 13 rebounds.

Jerry Smith led all Louisville scorers with 17, with Terrence Williams also pouring in 14. Off the bench, both Earl Clark & Edgar Sosa each had 12.

2009: Michigan State defeats Louisville 64-52

Just two days after scoring 103 points, the top-seeded Cardinals could barely muster half that against the No. 2 seeded Spartans, falling to Michigan State in a game where nothing was in sync for Louisville.

It was a heel turn from their matchup against the Arizona Wildcats where the scoring soared over the century mark. Michigan State's defensive effort made sure of that. After playing against mostly zone defenses to close out the season, the Spartans' man-to-man effort flustered the Cardinals. They opened up the game on a near four minute scoring drought, and turned the ball over 9 times in the first 18 minutes.

"We got very good at going against zones, but that man-to-man gave us trouble tonight because our inside attack wasn't there," head coach Rick Pitino said.

Conversely, Louisville calling card simply was not there. Their full court pressure defense resulted in no fast break points, and the Cards shot just 38.3% from the field and only connected on 10 of their 18 free throws. Leading scorer Earl Clark tied a game high 19 points, however second-leading scorer Terrence Williams only came away with 5 on 1-7 shooting.

2013: Louisville defeats Oregon 77-69

The Ducks gave Louisville everything they had, but in the end a heroic effort from their All-American and a surprising performance off the bench powered the top-seeded Cardinals into the Elite Eight during their 2013 title run.

When point guard Peyton Siva was forced to go to the bench after picking up his second foul just five minutes into the game, backup guard Kevin Ware slid into the point role with ease. Ware scored a career high 11 points on 5-7 shooting, while also allowing Russ Smith to play more freely. The All-American tied his career high with 31 on 9 field goals and 12 free throws.

"Russ Smith and Kevin [Ware] really bailed us out of some situations that could have gone either way," head coach Rick Pitino said. "We never let them come back because we kept attacking."

The inside presence of Gorgui Dieng also kept the Ducks relatively off-balance offensively. He came away with 9 total rebounds and a game high 4 blocks, while also helping hold the Ducks to just 44.3% from the field.

2015: Michigan State defeats Louisville

Just mere moments away from heading to a third Final Four in four year, the fourth-seeded Cardinals simply ran out of gas against the seventh-seeded Spartans, succumbing to upset-minded Michigan State in overtime.

Issues on the offensive end, which had plagued the Cards at various points in the season, reared its ugly head at the worst possible time. Despite a career day from Wayne Blackshear (28 points, 6-12 FG, 12-12 FT) Louisville shot just 35.9% from he field and connected on just six shots in the final 25 minutes of the game.

Leading by eight at the half, Louisville had a chance to win the game in regulation when Mangok Mathiang went to the free throw line in the closing seconds and the Cards down by one. The first one barely found the bottom of the net, while the second rimmed out.

But once the extra period started Louisville simply had nothing left in the tank and could only muster five points.

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