Louisville routs Oklahoma; Sweet 16-bound

No. 3 seed Louisville (26-8) dominated Oklahoma 78-48 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon to advance to the East Region semifinals Thursday against No. 2 seed Tennessee in Charlotte, N.C.

No. 3 seed Louisville dominated Oklahoma 78-48 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon to advance to the East Region semifinals Thursday against No. 2 seed Tennessee.

With the win over the sixth-seeded Sooners, Louisville became the third Big East team to advance to the Sweet 16 – joining Villanova and West Virginia.

"We played a good game against Boise State and we played a great game tonight both on offense and defense," Rick Pitino said. "Everybody on the team really did something well. I'm real proud to be in the Sweet 16."

"Offensively and defensively the guys did a beautiful job tonight. I can't really find a weakness with the way they played. They didn't turn it over, they executed, they went inside to out, took high percentage shots and made the extra pass and then turned around and played fabulous defense, both man and zone and pressed very effectively."

The game between the Cardinals and Sooners was billed as a showdown of big men. Louisville clearly won that battle, out-scoring Oklahoma 42-16 in the paint and fouling out 6-9 freshman sensation Blake Griffin with more than five minutes left in the contest.

Earl Clark and Louisville have a Sweet 16
matchup with Tennessee this Friday.

Earl Clark again led the way for Louisville, coming off the bench to score 14 points. Jerry Smith added 12 points. Five other Cardinals scored 7 or more points and 11 of 12 players who played scored. Only walk-on Lee Steiden failed to score in the game.

"I definitely think we're playing our best ball right now," Jerry Smith said. "We're clicking right now and we're really focusing in on getting wins."

After a strong shooting performance against Boise State in the first round, Louisville blistered the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center nets again against Oklahoma, torching the Sooners for 59 percent from the field, including 9 of 17 from behind the three-point arch.

But it was stingy defense again that set the tone for Louisville. After holding high-scoring Boise State 20 points below their season average, the Cardinals limited Oklahoma to just 31 percent shooting.

The Cardinals swarming zone and strong interior defense stopped Oklahoma's vaunted front court duo of Griffin and Longar Longar cold. The duo combined for only 10 points, 16 points below their combined season average.

David Godbold hit three first half three-pointers and led the Sooners with 15 points. Taylor Griffin, Blake's older brother, added 11 points off the bench.

Louisville, which jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, used a 21-4 run late in the first half to take control of the contest. Louisville pushed their lead to 44-22 at halftime on Will Scott's near half court buzzer beater.

"It looked like our night when that shot went in – it was a lucky shot," Pitino said.

After the break, the Sooners never got closer than 18 points. Louisville's biggest lead was 78-43.

Now it's on to Charlotte and a Sweet 16 date with Tennessee Friday night for the Cardinals. The Vols advanced Sunday with a 76-71 overtime win over Butler.

The winner of the Louisville-Tennessee contest will play the winner of the North Carolina-Washington State game for the right to advance to San Antonio for the Final Four.

This is Louisville's second Sweet 16 appearance under Pitino. The Cardinals also advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2005. The Cardinals made it to the Final Four that season.

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