University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino told team not to expect a pretty game on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament.
And he was spot on.
The Cardinals had to grind and gut it out, overcoming a lot of mistakes and a slower pace to edge Saint Louis 66-51 and move into the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.
"Coach said, whoever doesn't play as ugly will win the game," Montrezl Harrell said.
Added Luke Hancock: "We knew this was coming. We just had to grind it out."
The Cardinals did grind, missing its first 10 shots of the second half and trailing 29-27 with just under 17 minutes left in the game.
But then things got rolling a bit. U of L hit 22 of 49 from the field, including 6 of 17 three-pointers, while turning the ball over 19 times.
"This is a team that will turn you over and grind it out," Pitino said of the Billikens. "So we are real proud of our defensive effort. We grinded out a win, and that's what it's all about in the NCAA Tournament."
Luke Hancock led the Cardinals with 21 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. He had two key three-pointers late in the game as the Cardinals were able to pull away a bit.
Russ Smith added 11 points and seven assists, while turning it over seven times and hitting just 3 of 10. Chris Jones added 11 points, while Harrell had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Stephan Van Treese had just two points but added eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Wayne Blackshear had six points and was a key on defense late in the game on defense.
"We just had to stay focused and make sure we did what the scouting report said," Van Treese said. "It was ugly. But it's a win."