Louisville wins 2014 American Athletic Conference basketball tournament: Cardinals top Huskies 71-61

Joe Murphy

The Cardinals jumped all over Connecticut and rode a big first half to the AAC Tournament title, and possibly earned themselves a No. 2 seed in the process.

Louisville entered the AAC Tournament final playing extremely well and that continued on Saturday, as the Cardinals pulled away from Connecticut and secured the AAC Tournament championship with a 71-61 win. Louisville didn't threaten 100 points like it did during the first two games of the tournament, but it was in control throughout the contest.

A Chris Jones jumper gave Louisville a 8-6 lead just over four minutes into the first half and the Cardinals held the lead the rest of the game. The Huskies were able to remain within striking distance for most of the half, but struggled to make a run to cut into the lead. Instead, Louisville slowly increased its lead, building an eight-point advantage with two minutes to play in the first half. It added some more separation with a strong close and went into the break up 14, 37-23.

The second half proved to be more of the same. While the Huskies nearly matched Louisville shot-for-shot, they were unable to ever threaten the Cardinals. Louisville didn't play as well offensively as it had earlier in the tournament, but it didn't matter. Montrezl Harrell led the way, scoring 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting while also grabbing 11 rebounds. Russ Smith scored 19 points.

DeAndre Daniels and Shabazz Napier led the way for Connecticut with 17 and 16 points, respectively. With the loss, the Huskies will likely land as a low-end No. 5 seed or high-end No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville's ticket is punched and now the Cardinals will wait to see how high they will be seeded. They are playing very good basketball and have won 12 of 13 games. In a postgame interview, Rick Pitino said the Cardinals look like a No. 1 seed, but that may be a bit on the optimistic side.

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