The University of Louisville basketball team is headed to the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
The Cardinals shot under 30 percent on Wednesday night but beat Old Dominion in the first round and then hit just 37 percent - including 29 in the second half - as they pulled away from Wichita State 62-52 on Thursday afternoon.
Donovan Mitchell scored 14 points, including two huge three-pointers in the final five minutes, while Quentin Snider added 14 points and the Cardinals moved to the finals of the event.
The Cardinals led 33-17 at halftime but the lead shrunk to six points on two occasions. But Mitchell hit two key three-pointers and the Cardinals kept making free throws down the stretch.
MVP of the game
Oh, Donovan nice job!
Donovan Mitchell struggled shooting it again but came up with some huge shots in the end.
Mitchell played 35 minutes and finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals on the night. He was 5 of 13 from the field but had his two three-pointers - out of 2-for-8 - both in the final five minutes to help stretch the lead.
Mitchell hasn't been playing a complete game but he's a gamer folks.
Three key takeaways
1. Awesome without the preparation: Louisville only had 14 and a half hours from the end of the game on Wednesday until the opening tip of the game against Shockers. But the Cardinals looked like the rested team for much of the game.
U of L coach Rick Pitino said the team had a 55-minute walk through this morning and that's when they installed the 2-3 matchup zone to play against the Shockers. The guys showed a lot of toughness and great stamina in winning this game.
Now, they'll go rest.
2. Oh, that match-up zone: Pitino said we would see 90 percent man-to-man this season and I think the Cardinals have bought into that. But now I wonder if they might play a little more of the match-up zone after this showing.
The defense in the first half was sensational.
Louisville used the 'contain' press for much of the game and rotated back into the match-up zone and had the Shockers confused. It's a good look with all the length - leads to more contested and blocked shots - if only the guys can learn all the little details.
3. Spalding playing really well: Ray Spalding isn't scoring much but he's playing really well right now.
In this one, Spalding had four points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two assists. He's made a few nice passes, is contesting shots and really making a difference on the defensive end. He just needs to be more confident on offense.
*****Louisville led for most of the game with just one lead change; the Cardinals hit 12 of 28 in the first half but just 7 of 24 in the second half for the 37 percent for the game. U of L was 12 of 15 from the line in the second half after 5 of 8 in the first.
*****Anas Mahmoud had six blocked shots, while Ray Spalding had two for the Cardinals. U of L now has 41 blocks in five games.
*****Louisville was a 2.5-point underdog in the game. The Cardinals hadn't beaten a team as an underdog since knocking off Northern Iowa in the 2015 NCAA Tournament second round.
Quotable . . .
Louisville coach Rick Pitino on the victory:
"We beat a very good basketball team," Pitino said. "They're a very good team. . . . We were super, super excited. I said to them I didn't know how are we going to win this game. Look at what happened to Michigan State today. They went through same thing we did. But our guys came and didn't make any excuses and just kept fighting."
Up next . . .
The Cardinals (5-0) will take on Baylor on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the title game of the event.