Louisville smothers Villanova, 74-55

NEW YORK – The University of Louisville men's advanced into the semifinals of the Big East Tournament on Thursday night with a stellar defensive effort. The Cardinals forced 24 turnovers and downed Villanova 74-55 in Madison Square Gardens.

The Cardinals used a 12-2 run early in the first half to forge ahead and let the defense do much of the work.

U of L forced 18 turnovers in the first half – the most in a half the entire season – and opened the lead to 30-21.

It was much of the same with the smothering defense in the second half.

On offense, the Cardinals had more three pointers than two-point field goals in the first half, hitting 6 of 13 from long range. Peyton Siva had three in the opening 20 minutes with Luke Hancock, Russ Smith and Wayne Blackshear getting one apiece.

And then in the second half, Smith took over.

He finished with 28 points on 7 of 12 from the field and 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. The 28 tied Edgar Sosa for the most points by a U of L player in a Big East Tournament game. Sosa did it in 2010 against Cincinnati.

Hancock finished with 12 points, while Siva had 10 points, three assists, three steals and three rebounds. He's now one steal behind LaBradford Smith for the all-time lead in U of L history with 229 for his career.

The Cardinals (27-5) move into the semifinals and will play the Marquette-Notre Dame winner at 9 p.m. on Friday.

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