How 'Sweet' It Is! Cards beat Georgia Tech

Behind Francisco Garcia's 21 points and Tello Palacios' 12 points and 11 rebounds, the 4th-ranked Cardinals dominated the 5th-seeded Georgia Tech Yellowjackets 76-54 to advance to the program's first Sweet 16 since 1997.

Louisville sure plays like a No. 1 seed.

Francisco Garcia scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half and Taquan Dean stopped any hope Georgia Tech had for a rally with back-to-back 3-pointers, sealing a 76-54 victory that sent Louisville to the regional semifinals for the first time since 1997.

Dean finished with 14 points, all but two on 3-pointers, and also had six rebounds and two assists. Larry O'Bannon added 16 for the fourth-seeded Cardinals, who have won 20 of their last 21.

As the final seconds ticked down, the thousands of Cardinals fans who were lining up Saturday night to buy leftover tickets started chanting "Sweet 16! Sweet 16!" Garcia was beaming as he came out of the game and hugged coach Rick Pitino, who improved to 29-9 in 11 NCAA tournament appearances.

It was a swift end for the fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets, who made a thrilling run to the title game last year. Though they returned almost the entire team, they looked more like newcomers than crusty veterans against the Cardinals and their 2-3 zone. They trailed by double digits less than five minutes into the game, and ended up shooting less than 38 percent.

Luke Schenscher led the Yellow Jackets with 13, but the rest of Georgia Tech's offense was largely ineffective. Jarrett Jack had 11 points, Will Bynum had eight and B.J. Elder was held to just three.

The Cardinals were sure they'd locked up a top seed after beating Memphis to win the Conference USA tournament, and made no secret of their disgust when they didn't get one. Worse, they drew the fourth seed in the Albuquerque Regional, behind lightly regarded Washington, Wake Forest and Gonzaga.

Well, Wake and the 'Zags are done now, relegated to their couches for the rest of the tournament. And Louisville has a chance to prove it really did deserve that top seed, playing Washington in the regional semifinals next weekend.

If the Cardinals keep playing like this, their seed isn't going to matter.

They got off to a blistering start, blowing right through Georgia Tech's vaunted press and launching shots before the Yellow Jackets had time to react. They made their first six shots of the game - four from 3-point range - and didn't miss until the game was 5{ minutes old. No one was better than Garcia. He had topped his average by halftime with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

Louisville made 15 of its 24 shots as it took a 45-30 lead at halftime - and the Cardinals did all this with Dean playing only seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.

The Yellow Jackets finally found an answer for Louisville's zone early in the second half, exploiting it with outside shots. Bynum and Elder hit back-to-back 3s with 9:44 left to cut Louisville's lead to 52-43, the first time Georgia Tech had been within double figures since early in the first half. But Juan Palacios made a pair of free throws and Dean made his own pair of 3s.

Garcia made another 3, and Georgia Tech never threatened again.

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