The Louisville Cardinals led by as many as 15 points in the second half, racing out to a 44-29 lead on an 18-4 run out of the locker room against the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday night. They held on to advance to the Sweet 16, 59-56, but not before a furious rally by Drew Gordon and New Mexico.
The Cardinals took a slim 26-25 in intermission, but Russ Smith helped give them a seemingly commanding lead. He came off the bench to lead Louisville in scoring with 17 points on 5-for-12 shooting. He went 3-for-3 from 3-point range, and consistently broke down the Lobos inside even if he didn't always quite finish at the rim. Chane Behanan and Kyle Kuric both added 10 points each.
The Lobos didn't back down, however. They held the Cardinals to just eight points over the next 12-plus minutes to pull within two points, 53-51, with 1:30 to go in the game, following a big 3-pointer by Demetrius Walker. They had an opportunity to keep the game at one possession with 25 seconds on the clock, but they turned the ball over in a wild loose ball sequence to essentially seal the game for Louisville.
Louisville did an impressive job on defense in the second. For the game they held the Lobos to 39.7 percent shooting from the field, and 21.7 percent on 23 3-point attempts. Drew Gordon almost singlehandedly kept the Lobos in the game, finishing with 21 points and 13 rebounds despite leaving the game late in the first half after suffering a nasty knee collision. He apparently wasn't bothered, however, somehow finding the energy to do things like this:
He even made his second 3-pointer of the season late in the game. Unfortunately, the superhuman effort was ultimately for naught. Kendall Williams was the only other Lobo to reach double-digit points, finishing with 11 to go along with five assists. He went just 1-for-5 from beyond the arc for the game, however.
The Cardinals advance to the Sweet 16, where they will face the winner of Sunday's game between the 9-seed St. Louis Billikens and the 1-seed Michigan State Spartans.
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