Analysis: Smith, Behanan lead UofL to Final 4

Louisville finished the West Region final against Florida with a 23-8 run, fueled by Russ Smith and Chane Behanan - and tremendous defense - to overcome the Gators 11 point advantage in the final ten minutes. InsideTheVille.com takes a closer look at Louisville's big win.

Louisville overcame an 11 point second half deficit and Peyton Siva fouling out to beat Florida 72-68 Saturday in the West Regional finals to advance to the Final Four. The Cardinals, who closed the game on a 23-8 run, were led by Russ Smith and Chane Behanan, who sparked the late rally. The Cardinals now head to New Orleans to play the Kentucky/Baylor winner in the national semifinals. Here's instant analysis of the game:

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Freshman guard Wayne Blackshear made 1-2 free throws with 2.8 seconds to give Louisville a 72-68 victory. Leading by three after Russ Smith made two key free throws, Bradley Beal and Kenny Boynton missed a pair of three-pointers in the final 16 seconds that Blackshear rebounded and was fouled.


Chane Behanan helped Louisville overcome Florida in the West Region finals.
KEY STATS: 0-9
After hitting 8 of 11 three-pointers in the first half to seize control of the game and take a 41-33 lead into the break, Louisville switched out the matchup zone into man to man. That decision was wise, as the Gators missed all nine of their three-pointers in the second half, allowing Louisville to close strong and overtake them in the final minutes.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Russ Smith is the reason the Cardinals are headed to the Final Four. The sophomore guard scored 12 of Louisville's last 25 points, including two free throws to put the Cards up 71-68 with :16 seconds. After Siva fouled out with 3:58, Smith grabbed four big rebounds, while directing Louisville's comeback. Smith made 6-13 shots, 6-7 free throws, grabbed five boards and dished out two assists.

BIG PLAY: Louisville trailed the Gators from the final 7:25 in the first half until Chane Behanan's short jumper in the lane gave Louisville a 69-68 lead with 1:12 remaining that they never relinquished. Behanan then blocked Beal's shot on the other end, which eventually led to Russ Smith's free throws.

TURNING POINT: Florida built a 60-49 lead with 10 minutes remaining that was fueled by four free throws by Erving Walker after Peyton Siva's fourth foul and a technical on Rick Pitino. After Eric Murphy's jumper, Pitino called a critical timeout. Louisville responded with a 23-8 run in the final 10 minutes. Russ Smith took over offensively with assistance from Behanan, who scored 11 points, including seven straight, down the stretch. The Cardinals also turned up their defense, holding Florida to 3-of-15 shooting in the final 10 minutes.

TOP RESERVE Russ Smith. See above. The talented, though sometimes frustrating Smith, has cemented his spot in hearts and minds of the Louisville faithful for all-time after leading the Cardinals to an improbable ninth Final 4 appearance.


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