Posted March 22, 2012 on AP on Fox
Gorgui Dieng swatted away the West Region's top seed to send Rick Pitino into another regional final. Chane Behanan scored 15 points and Dieng anchored Louisville's stifling defense with seven blocked shots, helping the Cardinals knock off top-seeded Michigan State 57-44 Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals. Louisville (29-9) smothered the NCAA tournament's best-shooting team with its matchup zone, getting good pressure from its guards up top and some big swats by Dieng, one of the nation's top shot-blockers. The Cardinals relied on 3-point shooting in the first half and went inside the second to befuddle the Spartans, earning a trip to the West final against Marquette or Florida on Saturday. Michigan State (29-8) started slow and never got going against Louisville's amoebic defense, shooting 28 percent while being outscored 20-14 inside by the leaner Cardinals. Dieng finished with five points, seven rebounds and had three steals. Peyton Siva overcame a rough shooting night - four points on 2-of-9 shooting - with nine assists. Draymond Green had 13 points and 16 rebounds in his final game for Michigan State and Brandon Wood added 14 points. This sweet matchup of top programs featured two of college basketball's best short-preparation coaches. Pitino has used his speed-the-opponent-up system to reach the Final Four five times, becoming the first coach to lead three different schools to the national semifinals. Once past the NCAA tournament's first week, he's had a knack for guiding his team farther along the bracket, advancing to the regional final all 10 times he's gotten a team to the semifinals. Tom Izzo has been in 17 years at Michigan State, building teams that can handle the rigors of the Big Ten or switch to greyhound mode when the opponent plays fast. He's been as consistent as any coach in the game, leading the Spartans to the Final Four six times, including the 2000 national title, and 10 trips to the regionals round the past 15 years. Izzo played the right hand the last time these two basketball brains met, taking the Spartans to the 2009 Final Four after they found a way to break Louisville's pressure. Pitino had something up his sleeve this time. With Michigan State bogging the game down, the Cardinals struggled early, missing 12 of their first 13 shots. They snapped out of it by hitting 3s. Russ Smith hit a pair, Jared Swopshire and Chris Smith each dropped one in and, even Dieng - 0-for-2 in his career previously - got one to go in. Swopshire closed it out with a 3 from the corner to put the Cardinals up 23-15 at halftime. Louisville was 7 of 15 from the arc in the half, but got almost nothing inside, hitting 1 of 15 shots from 2-point range. Michigan State couldn't seem to hit anything from anywhere, going 6-for-22 from the field, 2-for-9 from the arc. Louisville shifted gears to open the second half, getting two layups and a dunk to keep its cushion. Swopshire followed with an alley-oop to Siva for the point guard's first points, then stole the inbound pass to set up two free throws by Russ Smith that put the Cardinals up 35-25. Michigan State managed a short run to get within four, but Louisville used its pressure to get a couple of steals and baskets to go up 43-32. Dieng followed with a couple more swats - one on Keith Appling that sailed into the stands - to keep the Spartans from making a run. Louisville outscored Michigan State by six inside and had a 17-4 advantage off the bench.

Spartans' tourney run halted early

PHOENIX (AP) -- Gorgui Dieng swatted away the West Region's top seed to send Rick Pitino into another regional final. Chane Behanan scored 15 points and Dieng anchored Louisville's stifling defense with seven blocked shots, helping the Cardinals knock off top-seeded Michigan State 57-44 Thursday night in the West Regional semifinals. Louisville (29-9) smothered the NCAA...

Louisville proves Dieng tough on defense

It had been a struggle for Louisville this season. Early on, the Cardinals had problems scoring after injuries cost them several players. Then their starting point guard Peyton Siva fell into a slump for more than a month. And just in time for the Big East tournament, they lost four of their final six regular-season games. But throughout it all, Louisville had been consistent...

Donovan brings out the storyteller in Pitino

PHOENIX Rick Pitino was starting his first year as Providence College mens basketball coach in 1985 after a brief stint as an assistant with the New York Knicks. Fearing hed lose his already minimal role with a new coach, in walked Friars guard Billy Donovan to ask for a release from his scholarship. The unfortunate thing for me is I had too many guys coming back, and not one...

Pitino, Donovan formed bond at Providence

When Rick Pitino coached Billy Donovan at Providence, the two had an unspoken bond. The Friars pressed after each of their made baskets during games and when they did Donovan, their star point guard, looked to Pitino every time to find out whether he and his teammates should employ their "White" or "Black" press. When Providence called its high pick-and-roll...

Louisville - Michigan State Notebook

Rick Pitino, Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan discuss Louisville's 57-44 win over Michigan State Thursday night in the West Region semifinals in Phoenix.

TBS Has A Chance To Make Things Right

Rick Pitino and his program will try to redeem themselves tonight after losing to Michigan State in the Elite 8 in 2009. The Spartans eliminated what was likely Louisville’s best team in a decade. The 2005 Final Four team was great, but the team in 2009 had a very realistic shot at winning a national championship. The Louisville Cardinals won’t be the only ones seeking redemption...

Donovan, Pitino meet with Final Four trip on line

Billy Donovan knew a bad idea when he heard one. Put on this cowboy hat and these spurs and we'll take a picture of you, his coach told him. Maybe we'll even put it on the front of the team program. Donovan says: ''I was not happy about doing that.'' Rick Pitino rarely steered him wrong, though. A quarter-century since that fateful photo, ''Billy...

Elite 8 Bound

Four teams have punched their tickets to the NCAA March Madness Elite 8 with Louisville, Syracuse, Ohio State and Florida getting wins last night. Michigan State was the first #1 seed to exit the tournament, thanks to some great defense by Louisville. Louisville’s Center Gorgui Dieng was a force in the middle, blocking 7 shots and grabbing 3 steals to go with his 9 rebounds. Dieng...

Gators lose lead to Louisville in final minute

PHOENIX (AP) -- Hated to do that to ya, kid. Rick Pitino nearly came unhinged and his point guard watched the end of the game from the bench. When it was over, though, it was Pitino and Louisville making plans for the Final Four and his protege, Billy Donovan, and the Florida Gators wondering what the heck happened. Chane Behanan made the go-ahead basket with 1:04 left Saturday...

Today Is The Day

Today is the day. At 4:30 this afternoon, the Louisville Cardinals face the #7 seeded Florida Gators for a spot in the 2012 Final Four. The Gators are coahced by Billy Donovan, who began his coaching career under Pitino as a graduate assistant at Kentucky in 1989-90 and was an assistant coach at Kentucky from 1990-94 before becoming head coach at Marshall. Donovan is 0-6 all time...

Louisville-Florida preview

West Regional final: (4) Louisville vs. (7) Florida, 1:30 p.m. PDT Louisville Cardinals (29-9) Conference: Big East NCAA Tournament ticket: Won Big East Tournament title and automatic bid. How they got to Phoenix: Beat Davidson, 69-62, in round of 64; beat New Mexico, 59-56, in round of 32; beat Michigan State, 57-44 in Sweet 16. Stats leaders: Points: GF Kyle Kuric, 12.9. Rebounds...

U of L not taking Michigan State lightly this time around

Another showdown with Michigan State in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.The University of Louisville should never have lost to the Spartans during the 2009 meeting, not with two first-round draft choices. But that U of L team may have been way too confident coming off of a 103-64 drubbing of Arizona two days earlier.  Remember Terrence Williams dancing on the sidelines? Edgar Sosa...
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