Poor shooting, Davis doom Cards

Rick Pitino had a sound game-plan to derail Kentucky's 'dream team' in Saturday's national semifinals in New Orleans. The Cards did a good job executing Pitino's game-plan but couldn't hit enough shots, or stop Anthony Davis, to upset the 'Cats.

Rick Pitino had a sound game-plan to derail Kentucky's 'dream team' in Saturday's national semifinals in New Orleans.

The plan: Pressure Kentucky's guards, crash the boards, limit turnovers and try to slow the Wildcats in transition.

The Cardinals forced 14 turnovers, two more than they committed.

Louisville out-rebounded UK 37-32, including plus 11 on the offensive board.


Out-scored 32-17 from the free throw line in the first meeting at Rupp Arena, UofL kept the 'Cats, who made just two more foul shots than the Cards, largely off the free throw line in the Superdome rematch.

Louisville also held Kentucky starters Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doron Lamb and Marquise Teague below their season scoring averages. Bench points were even as Russ Smith and Wayne Blackshear combined for 18 points, the same as UK reserves Darius Miller and Kyle Wiltjer.

Here's where Louisville missed their opportunity not only to pull a Superdome shocker, but to do so comfortably: Rick Pitino's team had 20 more shots (69-49) at the basket than John Calipari's dream team, but the 'Cats made four more field goals than Louisville.

That's right, Kentucky, which shot an unbelievable 57 percent from the floor, made 28 field goals to the Cards' 24 despite 20 fewer attempts from the field.

The difference: National POY Anthony Davis, who had 18 points, 14 boards and 5 blocks. Davis, who will likely be the top selection in the NBA Draft, dunked, blocked, altered shots and boarded Kentucky past the Cardinals. Though Gorgui Dieng had 12 rebounds and four blocks, UofL's 6'11 center simply couldn't match Davis' offensive abilities, finishing with seven points.

"The differences, quite frankly, just Anthony Davis is the No. 1 player picked in the draft," Pitino said. "When you're playing against Bill Russell at the pro level, you realize why the Celtics won 11 World Championships. When you see this young man at the collegiate level, you realize why they're so good. Not that their other players aren't, but he's so much of a factor. Anthony Davis is as fine a basketball player as there is. His length is incredible. Not till the end did Gorgui block him out. That's what you've got to do with him, you've got to block him out to keep him away from the basket."

Here's all you need to know about Davis effect on Louisville. The Cardinals missed 16 dunks or layups. Seven of those misses were blocked or altered by Davis. Whether it was offensively or defensively, Davis provided big plays at both ends of the court for Kentucky.

"Anthony Davis, he's a great player," said Chris Smith, who scored 8 points in his final game for UofL. "He can change every shot. I would say he has good footwork and he shot pretty well."

On a night when Louisville did so many things it needed to give itself a chance to upset John Calipari's heavily favored Wildcats, the Cardinals couldn't do something it had trouble doing all season - hit shots. That, and stopping Anthony Davis.

"He just has great length, so he's able to alter shots," said Kyle Kuric, who finished his career at Louisville with seven points and five rebounds. "It's difficult for guards like Peyton [Siva] and Russ [Smith] to get a clean look like they usually do."


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