How? Turnovers. Louisville only had nine, while forcing 17 Seton Hall miscues. That differential gave the Cardinals a few easy scoring opportunities and extra possessions it needed to advance to the Thursday's quarterfinal against No. 2 seed Marquette.
Now comes the big challenge for Rick Pitino's Cards.
In the 'Hall, Louisville beat a bubble team with a losing conference record despite poor shooting and a -10 rebounding deficit. That's something they did all season. The one thing Louisville didn't do this season - beat a Top 25 opponent or a Big East team with a winning conference record. Pitino's squad will get another chance against the Golden Eagles to notch a signature win and build confidence and positive momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament.
The first meeting between the two teams was a contrast in runs. Louisville opened the game with an 18-2 surge, but Marquette responded with 32-12 run to claim a four-point lead at the break. In the second half, Marquette's big man Devante Gardner went to work inside and the Cardinals had a five minute field goal drought late in the game that the Golden Eagles took advantage of with a 13-3 run to build a 16-point lead. During that stretch, Louisville committed six turnovers and seven fouls. The final was 74-63 -- as the Cardinals played without starting forward Kyle Kuric.
A few of interesting notes about that game. Louisville actually made one more field goal than Marquette, out-rebounded them by 5, and had 17 assists to go with 11 steals. The Cardinals lost for three reasons:
1. The free throw line. Marquette made 16-18; UofL 4-10. Keeping MU off the line and making a higher percentage at the stripe figure to be major keys for the Cards.
2. Turnovers. Louisville threw the ball all over the gym in the first meeting, committing 17 turnovers. The Cards took care of the ball against Seton Hall last night. They'll have to do that again tonight to beat Marquette.
3. Johnson-Odom, Crowder and Gardner. Those three killed UofL and combined for 50 of MU's 74 points and 21 rebounds. Louisville will have to devise a plan to slow down those big three and figure out a better way to keep them off the backboard, especially the 6'6 Crowder, who had 11 boards - 3 offensive - in the January matchup in Milwaukee.