Saturday, March 28, 2009
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INDIANAPOLIS - Louisville proved it was the best in the Big East. Now, the Cardinals are showing just how mighty they might be.
Earl Clark had 19 points and nine rebounds and the top-seeded team in the NCAA tournament delivered one of the most crushing blowouts in regional round history - a 103-64 romp over Arizona on Friday night.
Coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals (31-5) topped 100 points for the first time this season, hit 13 3-pointers and nearly 57 percent from the field, moving into the Midwest final in impressive fashion. They will play either Kansas or Michigan State on Sunday.
The Big East regular season and tourney champs became the fourth team from the league to reach a regional final this season with a victory that just missed cracking the top five for most lopsided routs in regional round history. UCLA set the record with a 49-point victory over Wyoming in 1967, and all the top five were recorded before 1972.
Arizona (21-4) did little right and hardly resembled the team that shot 52.5 percent from the field in its first two tourney wins. On Friday, the Wildcats connected on just 37.8 percent and committed 15 turnovers against Louisville's pressure defense.
The Cardinals were simply too fast, too strong, too big, and shooting too well for 12th-seeded Arizona to have a chance.
At times, it appeared the Cardinals were toying with Arizona. Once, Terrence Williams grabbed a defensive rebound, whipped the ball around his back, then delivered a perfect outlet pass that led to Clark's 3-pointer.