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Louisville beats Michigan to finish NCAA title mission
His first tattoo, apparently.
Pitino vowed to get inked up if his players won the championship. They intend to hold him to that promise.
“I have a couple of ideas,” said Luke Hancock, who became the first backup in tournament history to be designated as most outstanding player. “He doesn’t know what he’s getting into.”
“Our biggest motivation,” Peyton Siva added, “was to get coach a tattoo.”
Not a bad week for Louisville, either. The school has a chance to make it two national titles in 24 hours when the surprising women’s team faces Connecticut on Tuesday night in the championship game at New Orleans.
On the eve of their big game, the women got together with hundreds of fans in a hotel lobby to cheer on the men.
“It’s a great time to be a Cardinal,” coach Jeff Walz said.
A great time, indeed. Hancock produced another huge game off the bench, scoring 22 points, and the Cardinals (35-5) lived up to their billing as the top overall seed in the men’s tournament.
They sure had to work for it, though.
Louisville trailed Wichita State by a dozen in the second half before rallying for a 72-68 victory. This time, they fell behind by 12 in the first half, then unleashed a stunning spurt led by Hancock that wiped out the entire deficit before the break.
“I had the 13 toughest guys I’ve ever coached,” Pitino said. “I’m just amazed they could accomplish everything we put out there.”
No one was tougher than Hancock, who matched his season high after a 20-point effort in the semifinal victory over Wichita State. This time, he came off the bench to hit four straight 3-pointers in the first half after Michigan got a boost from an even more unlikely player.
Freshman Spike Albrecht made four straight from beyond the arc, too, blowing by his career high before halftime with 17 points. Coming in, Albrecht was averaging 1.8 points a game and had not scored more than seven all season.
Albrecht didn’t do much in the second half, but Hancock finished what he started for Louisville. He made it 5-for-5 from long range when he hit his final 3 from the corner with 3:27 remaining to give the Cardinals their biggest lead, 76-66. Michigan wouldn’t go away, but Hancock wrapped it up by making two free throws with 29 seconds left.
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