ATLANTA (Sporting Alert, Box Score) — No. 1 seed Louisville survived the slow early start to beat Wichita State 72-68 in the NCAA men’s Final Four on Saturday and punched their ticket into the championship game on Monday night.
The injured Kevin Ware watched his teammates nervously on the sidelines and at the end of the game stood in relief.
Russ Smith went cold from his opening attempts in the first half, but went on to score 21 points to help lead the Cardinals (33-5) to their 15th straight victory.
Luke Hancock came off the bench to add 20 points, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, as Louisville came back from 12 points down in the second half to seal the victory.
“Wichita State is an unbelievable team and we just had to come out and execute in the second half,” Hancock said after his team struggled to get going in the opening 20 minutes.
Walk-on guard Tim Henderson only finished with six points, but hit back-to-back three-pointers in 45-seconds to start the revival and pushed his team in the comeback. Chane Behanan added 10 in the win.
Cleanthony Early led the Shockers with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat.
Carl Hall added 13 points and Ron Baker ended with 11 points and eight boards for Wichita State (30-9).
“I’ve never been prouder of a group of men and I can never thank them enough for the ride that they’ve given us throughout this tournament,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said.