Analysis: Pitino remains perfect

Chane Behanan helped lead Louisville to a 57-44 victory over Michigan State Thursday night in the West Region semifinals as Rick Pitino improved his Sweet 16 record to 10-0 all-time.

Louisville knocked out Michigan State 57-44 Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals as Rick Pitino improved to 10-0 in Sweet 16 round contests. Chane Behanan led the Cardinals with 15 points and eight boards, while Gorgui Dieng dominated inside with seven blocked shots. Now one step away from the reaching the Final Four, the Cardinals will play the winner of the Marquette/Florida game. Here's instant analysis of the game:

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Louisville, up five at the break, was in control throughout the second half. Michigan State cut the Cardinals lead to 49-42 with 2:40 remaining. Then Russ Smith sliced down the lane to put back Chane Behanan's missed foul shot to push Louisville ahead 51-42. Game. Set. Match.

KEY STATS: 39.1, 39-36 and 15-10
There were three reasons Louisville dispatched Michigan State - three-point shooting, rebounding and turnovers. The Cardinals made 9-23 three-pointers against the Spartans stingy defense, out-pacing Tom Izzo's squad by 12 points behind the arch. Louisville also out-rebounded the Spartans, one of the top rebounding outfits in the country, 39-36. The Cardinals hurt MSU with eight offensive rebounds in the first half, then sealed the deal on Smith late outback. UofL also won the turnover battle, forcing 15 MSU mistakes, while committing just ten for the game.


PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chane Behanan was the star for Louisville. Though Gorgui Dieng dominated defensively with nine rebounds and seven blocked shots, Behanan delivered 15 points - all after the break - to provide the offense Louisville needed to advance to the Elite 8. The 6'7 freshman also had nine rebounds, made three steals, dished one assist and committed only one turnover. Behanan hit 6 of 10 shots and 3-7 free throws.

BIG PLAY: Louisville had a lot of big plays for the Cardinals. Jared Swopshire's three just before the halftime buzzer for a 23-18 advantage at the break. Swopshire's alley-oop to Peyton Siva. Smith's late putback. But there was no bigger play than Chris Smith's three-pointer with 9:43. After MSU had cut Louisville's lead to 35-31 with a 6-0 run midway through the final half, Smith squashed the Spartans momentum with a deep dagger that re-ignited the Cards.

TURNING POINT: After the Spartans cut Louisville's lead down to four with 10:55, the Cardinals scored the games next five field goals to regain control 46-33 with 6:11 left. Behanan had four points during the stretch, Chris Smith drained a three, and Kyle Kuric scored on the break after a Chris Smith steal. Siva finished the run with a jumper.

TOP RESERVE Russ Smith has been the key reserve off the Louisville bench this season, and Thursday's showdown against the Spartans was no different. Though Swopshire's two first half threes helped Louisville gain early control, Smith, who scored 11 points, once again came up huge for the Cardinals. Whether it was draining threes - he hit two - crashing the boards - he had three, including the key putback, or dishing to open teammates - he had three assists - Smith contributed every conceivable way for Louisville. And get this, the 6-0 soph. had just one miscue in 17 minutes.


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