Florida's Elite Eight matchup with Louisville was billed as both a tussle between master Rick Pitino and student Billy Donovan and a clash between the Gators' explosive offense and the Cardinals' stifling defense. Master and defense won out, as the Cardinals ripped off an 18-3 run to finish the game and earn a 72-68 victory.
Russ Smith had 19 points and five rebounds off the bench for Louisville, which recovered from a white-hot first half by the Gators to choke Florida out down the stretch. The Gators made just one field goal in the final 8:14 of play, and Chane Behanan's jumper with just more than a minute left gave the Cardinals their first lead since the 12:43 mark of the first half.
All five Florida starters finished in double figures, but none had more than the 14 points that Bradley Beal and Erik Murphy had. Beal, Kenny Boynton, and Erving Walker combined to shoot just 13-for-33 from the field, and missed shot after shot down the stretch. Beal, likely a top-five pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, also traveled in the last minute, squandering a Florida chance to win the game.
Louisville moves on to the Final Four, where the Cardinals will play either Kentucky or Baylor. The Gators bowed out in the Elite Eight for the second straight year, with a collapse eerily similar to one that happened in 2011 against Butler.
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