|Louisville struggles in loss to Michigan State|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 March 2009 14:02|
The result was a 64-52 loss to Michigan State in the Midwest Regional final on Sunday. It was a seemingly premature end for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
``I think we were a Final Four team, which is what's so interesting about college basketball,'' Louisville guard Edgar Sosa said. ``You can be a great team, but that one night that you don't come out to play, and it's over. It's not like the best-of-seven in the NBA playoffs. It's one and done.''
Louisville senior Terrence Williams had envisioned a different finish, especially after last year's 83-73 loss to North Carolina in the East Regional final.
He talked about that loss in the days leading up to Sunday's game, saying the Cardinals didn't want to feel that level of disappointment again.
s, wandering in disbelief after the final buzzer. While still on the court, he walked slowly toward a group of Louisville fans with his arms extended and palms facing the roof of Lucas Oil Stadium.
``For myself, my career is over and it didn't happen,'' he said. ``Unless you win the whole championship, you are not going to be satisfied. If we were to make it to the championship and lose, we'd still be upset.''
Coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals (31-6) had reason to hope for more after overwhelming Arizona 103-64 in the regional semifinal. But the tough Spartans blocked their path.
Williams, an All-Big East first-team selection, scored five points on 1-for-7 shooting. Earl Clark scored 19 points in his final game at Louisville and Preston Knowles added 11, but no other Cardinals scored in double figures. Louisville had averaged 85.3 points and had shot at least 49 percent in its previous three NCAA tournament games.
The Cardinals had expected to be able to run against the Spartans, who prefer a halfcourt style. Instead, Michigan State dictated the game by using a grind-it-out approach and slowing the tempo to negate Louisville's perceived speed and quickness advantages.
inst Michigan State.
Louisville scored fewer points just once this season, in a 68-51 loss to Connecticut on Feb. 2.
``They were quicker than us,'' Williams said. ``Their defense was more physical, and we really couldn't turn them over like we wanted to.''
While the outcome was disappointing for Louisville, Michigan State felt it earned respect. The Spartans felt they, and the Big Ten conference, had been overlooked all season.
``I must admit, though, we've been fighting all year for some credibility,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ``I don't know if this does it or not, but it was definitely a big start because we beat a very, very good basketball team. So take nothing from Louisville. They're as good as advertised. On this one day, we were a few points better.''
Actually, Michigan State was more than a few points better on Sunday. The Cardinals got just 32 points from their starting five, shot 38 percent from the field and were outrebounded 37-29.
Michigan State's Goran Suton scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half. The 6-foot-10 senior from Bosnia, the most outstanding player of the regional, made 3-of-3 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes.
s) popping out, hitting 3s on us. We couldn't readjust to it as well as we wanted to.''
Michigan State led 30-27 at halftime, but the Spartans already had started wearing the Cardinals down.
``In the second half, we tried to make some adjustments, but the first half really hurt us,'' Williams said. ``Even though we were only down three, it really took a lot out of us as a team.''
When Louisville trapped Suton in the high post early in the second half, the rest of the Spartans simply made shots. Durrell Summers scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.
The Cardinals hope people remember the sum of what they accomplished this season. They won the Big East conference regular season and tournament titles.
``You look back on it, and you're proud of the accomplishments the guys had,'' Pitino said. ``You're disappointed you couldn't go a little further. But you still got to be proud of, you know, 31 wins, finishing No. 1. We're a real good basketball team and we were beat by a better team tonight.''