Anton Gill the hero for Louisville

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Sophomore Anton Gill hasn't played a ton of minutes for the University of Louisville this season but he came up huge on Friday night. Gill scored seven points late in the game as the Cardinals downed North Carolina State 75-65 in the Sweet 16 game of the NCAA Tournament in the Carrier Dome.

Over a month ago, University of Louisville junior guard Terry Rozier sat in front of the media and talked up his close friend Anton Gill.

"We're going to need him," Rozier said. "He's having a tough year but at some point, coach is going to call his number and he'll be fine."

Gill, a little-used sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., had his number called on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game and he made the most of it.

The 6-foot-3 Gill hit 3 of 3 from the field and scored seven points in a two-minute stretch to lift the Cardinals to a 75-65 victory over North Carolina State - a campus he grew just down the street from.

"He won the game for us," U of L coach Rick Pitino said.

Gill, who had only four games of more than seven points all season, hit a runner in the lane, a three-pointer and another close-in shot. He also had two steals, one assist and played "great defense," according to assistant coach Kenny Johnson.

After the game he was mobbed by his teammates and then he was swarmed for more than 20 minutes by media from all over the country.

"I've dreamed about this," Gill said with a smile.

And thanks to Pitino he was ready for the moment. Not only did Pitino go to him when Wayne Blackshear picked up his third foul and told him to "be ready" but he also told him a story this week about making the most of his opportunity if it came.

Pitino was working out earlier this week when he called Gill up and relayed a story about his 1987 Providence team. The team that was unlikely to make an NCAA Tournament run but then made it all the way to the Final Four.

The story was about Darryl Wright, a guy who struggled through the season but when called upon in the Southeast Regional came through in a big way. Wright ended up making the All-Regional team after wins over Alabama and Georgetown.

"He went out and gave us an unbelievable lift," Pitino said of Wright. "I told (Gill), you're going to get your opportunity son. Tonight, I was going to put Shaqquan (Aaron) in and I thought about that and he basically won the game for us.

"For him to have this moment, I'm thrilled."

Gill, who hadn't scored since he had 14 in a Feb. 28 win over Florida State, said he wasn't the least bit nervous when he went in.

"I've been shooting all my life," he said. "I just saw I had an opportunity. We had worked hard all season and we didn't want to go home."

Gill, who is just averaging 9.5 minutes a game and has only scored 78 points all season, said his time on the bench has "been very tough." But he has tried to keep his head up.

"This has been the toughest year of my life," he said. "But my family has been there for me, my friends and teammates have been great and have been there for me. All I can do is to keep pushing each and every day, keep working hard.

"Coach told me my number was going to be called. The moral of the story (Pitino told him) is to always be ready and I was ready to go."

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