for this game

Louisville blows past Oklahoma into regional semifinals

Mar 24, 2008 - 1:11 AM
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Ticker) -- Louisville's fast-paced, efficient offense was too much for Oklahoma.

Earl Clark led a balanced attack with 14 points and Jerry Smith added 12 as the third-seeded Cardinals blew past sixth-seeded Oklahoma, 78-48, in a second-round matchup out of the East Regional on Sunday.

The Cardinals (26-8) shot 59 percent (32-of-54) from the floor, including 9-of-17 from the arc, and will play second-seeded Tennessee in the regional semifinals next Thursday.

"We played a good game against Boise and tonight we played a great game," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "Both at offense and defense, we had two turnovers at half-time. We really didn't turn it over at all in the second half until the final few minutes of play and everybody on the team did something really well."

Louisville had 24 assists on 32 baskets and also had a number of easy hoops, scoring 25 points off of 16 Oklahoma turnovers.

"They're playing at an extremely high level and they shot it well today," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "They defended really well, which they have been doing all year. It's disappointing today, I was really proud of our team for our season. This won't diminish the body of work that we have done all year."

Midway through the first half, Louisville took control with a decisive 30-7 run - which included 14 straight points - to take a 37-16 bulge with 4:21 left in the half. Smith led multiple contributors to the run with seven points.

"I definitely think we're playing our best basketball right now," Smith said. "The coaches did a great job. They prepared us well and we really focused in on everything."

The Cardinals remained comfortably in front, and Will Scott put the finishing touches on a dominant first half with a one-handed turnaround 3-pointer from just inside half-court to give Louisville a 44-22 lead at the break.

Scott was the 10th different player to score for Louisville in the first half.

Tony Crocker's jumper cut Oklahoma's deficit to 49-31 with 16:37 left, but the Cardinals responded with five quick points and continued to pour it on throughout the second half.

Derrick Caracter's layup capped a 12-3 run that gave Louisville a 66-38 advantage with 10:09 remaining, and the Cardinals led by as many as 35 with 4:16 to play.

Oklahoma (23-12) shot just 32 percent (15-of-47) from the floor for the game and was outscored, 44-20, on points in the paint.

"I'm real proud of the way our guys gave their energy," Pitino said. "It's exciting to see you feed on it, you get easy shots and the good thing about this pressing team this year is that we don't give up a whole lot with our press."

David Godbold, who had a career-high 25 points in the Sooners' first-round victory over Saint Joseph's, had 15 points to pace Oklahoma.

"I heard coach Pitino calling out, 'Shooter, shooter' every time I caught it and the guys responded by getting out to me," Godbold said. "Unfortunately it just got a little out of hand and they made a big run and we couldn't really respond to that. But I give all the credit to Louisville, they played a really good game."