No. 13 Louisville Explodes In Win Over Oklahoma

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BIRMINGHAM, AL -- Rick Pitino and Louisville pressed on. Earl Clark scored 14 points and the Cardinals played to near-perfection on both ends, romping past Oklahoma 78-48 Sunday in the second round of the East Regional.

Louisville harassed freshman star Blake Griffin with double teams down low, trapped the Sooners and ran every chance it got. The Cardinals neatly zipped passes in the paint - that bit of insider trading paid off with easy baskets all game.

Even plays Pitino didn't draw up worked out. The coach walked off with a wry smile after little-used Will Scott hit a 35-footer at the halftime buzzer for a 44-22 lead.

Starting five players born outside Kentucky, the third-seeded Cardinals (26-8) reached the round of 16 for the first time since 2005. They will take on Tennessee, which beat Butler 76-71 in overtime, on Thursday night in Charlotte, N.C.

Jerry Smith added 12 points for Louisville, a team that relies on balanced scoring. Most everyone took part, and the Cardinals shot 59 percent for the game.

David Godbold hit four 3s and finished with 15 points for sixth-seeded Oklahoma (23-12). Griffin looked like a mere freshman, held without a shot for the opening 12 minutes and limited to eight points.

Louisville matched its biggest rout in the NCAA tournament, having trounced Kansas State by 30 in 1968. Oklahoma absorbed its most-lopsided loss in the tourney.

Down by a bunch, any hope the Sooners had for rallying in the second half ended right away when Andre McGee quickly hit a 3-pointer.

The second half was a breeze for the Cardinals. The only hiccup a hard pass from David Padgett that deflected off teammate Terrence Williams' face and deflected out of bounds. No harm, and they shook their heads while a couple of Cardinals chuckled on the bench.

Even after Pitino returned to his roots with a barrage of 3s in an 18-point rout over Saint Joseph's in the first round, many fans figured this game would become a matchup of the big men - Griffin and Longar Longar against Padgett, Derrick Caracter and a cluster of Cardinals.

Pitino indeed concentrated on stopping the Sooners in the low blocks. At the outset, Louisville seemed to leave Godbold alone, even after he made five 3s and scored 25 points in the Sooners' first-round win over Boise State.

Godbold made three early 3s, but was not a big factor after that. Pitino improved to 34-11 in the NCAA tournament play and won again with a hallmark of his: stopping the opponent's top threat.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, scored from all over the court. Williams' basket on a fast break made it 37-16 and forced the Sooners to call timeout, with Longar staring at his teammates while he walked to the bench.

This was the first meeting between the teams since 1988, when Harvey Grant and the Sooners beat Louisville 108-98 on this same court in the Southeast Regional semifinal.



 
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