Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 4/9/13
ATLANTA (AP) Their best player was struggling and one of their main backups was on the bench with a broken legs. Louisville still had more than enough to win its third national title. Luke Hancock made four straight 3-pointers in the first half, and Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan had monster second halves to lead the top-seeded Cardinals to their first national title since 1986 on Monday night with an 82-76 victory over Michigan. Hancock finished with 22 points, including a perfect 5 for 5 from 3-point range. Siva had 14 of his 18 points in the second half, and Behanan had 11 of his 12 rebounds in the second half. Behanan also chipped in 15 points for Louisville (35-5). While Siva leaped off the floor to hug his family when the buzzer sounded, a beaming Kevin Ware hobbled onto the court to join his teammates. Behanan picked up two cheerleaders and, with one in each arm, carried them to the mosh pit that quickly formed at center court. Louisville wasn't exactly deep before Ware snapped his tibia in the Midwest Regional final, and Pitino candidly said his absence was going to cause "problems" for the Cardinals. Having Russ Smith revert to his wild and "Russdiculous" ways after being so brilliant in the first five games of the tournament didn't help matters. Smith began the night 1 of 10, and finished with nine points on 3-of-16 shooting. It was his worst performance since the Big East title game, and well below the 25 points he'd averaged in the first five games of the tournament. But adversity seems to mean nothing to the Cardinals. Ware's gruesome injury -- his bone protruded through the skin -- would have left most teams reeling. But he became their inspiration instead, urging his teammates to "just go win the game" to get to the Final Four, then accompanying his teammates to his hometown of Atlanta just three days later. And while his absence left Louisville short-handed, don't underestimate the emotional lift he provided. The Cardinals tweaked their warm-up T-shirts to read "Ri5e to the Occasion," with Ware's No. 5 on the back. He had a seat at the end of the bench, clapping and yelling for his teammates and even hobbling onto the court for a team huddle when things looked bleak against Wichita State on Saturday night. Ware wasn't going to miss cutting down the nets Monday, drawing the loudest cheers when the basket was lowered so he could get his share. In winning their final 16 games, the Cardinals always managed to find someone -- anyone -- to step up, and it wasn't going to be any different when the stakes were at their highest. Trailing by 12 -- the same deficit they faced against Wichita State on Saturday night -- late in the first half, Hancock made one, two, three and then a fourth 3-pointer. As his hand hung in the air after the last one, the Georgia Dome shook with cheers of "LUUUUUUKE!" for the guy who is so respected by his teammates he was made a team captain before he was eligible to play his first game for Louisville. Siva fed Montrezl Harrell for a monster dunk and, just like that, Louisville had a 37-36 lead just before the half. Michigan pulled within 54-52 with 12:07 to play on a deep, deep 3 by AP Player of the Year Trey Burke, who sat most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls. But then, Siva and Behanan simply took over. The Cardinals had three players with three fouls -- Hancock and Siva, included -- and fears about their shortened rotation had made them cautious in Saturday night's national semifinal. This time, however, it seemed to fire them up. The 6-foot Siva looked about 6 inches taller as he scooped up a rebound took it all the way in for a layup, the first of three straight baskets. Behanan seemed to be everywhere under the basket, grabbing one rebound after another. Louisville outrebounded 32-27, including 20-10 in the second half. Gorgui Dieng may have had a quiet night offensively -- he had eight points -- but he knocked down a short jumper to extend the lead to 65-61. Siva then scored on a backdoor dunk to make it 67-62 with 6:25 left, and the game was essentially over.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pierre-Paul won't need to wear club on hand this season

Report: Four cities remain in contention to host 2017 NBA ASG

Doc Rivers: Clippers have plan to let Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic

Another young 49er, Kaleb Ramsey, retires from NFL

Saints GM: Drew Brees’ contract situation is not a ‘distraction’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tim Tebow: ‘I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in’

Olympic athletes warned about Rio's 'human crap' waters

T.J. Ward: Broncos defense doesn’t care who’s playing QB

Tokyo already dealing with rising costs for 2020 Olympics

Bears first-round pick Leonard Floyd carted off practice field

Report: Bills and Tyrod Taylor continue to talk extension

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

Cam Talbot thinks the Oilers are close to making the playoffs

The new era of WWE SmackDown has liftoff

Vlade Divac: Cousins ‘most dominant player in the world’

Wild offer to make Prince's 'Let's Go Crazy' new goal song

Canucks don't dismiss acquiring player with past issues

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ordered to pay $900K to auction house

Six potential landing spots for Nick Foles

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker