NCAA basketball championship: Louisville Cardinals are all aces
By DAVID PURDUM The Sports Xchange
ATLANTA - Louisville took Michigan's best shot and survived. The Cardinals are the 2013 NCAA champions.
Senior point guard Peyton Siva and tournament star Luke Hancock each had dynamic games, leading Louisville, the tournament's overall top seed, to an 82-76 win over the fourth-seeded Wolverines.
Siva dazzled with his ball-handling and slashing ability. He finished with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Hancock lit it up from outside, connecting on all five of his 3-point attempts.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a part of the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame class, becomes the first coach to win a national championship at two different schools. He guided Kentucky to the 1996 title.
A Georgia Dome-record crowd of 74,326 was treated to a fantastic back-and-forth national championship game that capped what was considered a down year for college basketball. Stars and unheralded reserves for both teams hit big shots. There were alley-oop dunks and plenty of 3-pointers, fueling an electric atmosphere.
Hancock's last 3-pointer from the left corner put Louisville up by 10 with 3:13 to play. Michigan got back to within 78-74 with 50.1 seconds to play, but the Cardinals hit enough free throws down the stretch to seal the school's first national championship since 1986 and third overall.
National player of the year Trey Burke was terrific for Michigan, despite early foul trouble. So was his backup, freshman Michael "Spike" Albrecht, who had 17 points, all in a remarkable first-half performance. Burke finished with a game-high 24 for the Wolverines.
Louisville started to take control early in the second half. Russ Smith's corner 3-pointer put the Cardinals up 52-46 with 13 minute to go.
Pitino shuffled players in and out throughout the game, and Louisville's relentless pressure seemed to wear down Michigan in the second half. However, fouls mounted on the Cardinals. Michigan was in the double bonus for the game's final 4½ minutes. It didn't matter. Louisville just had too many weapons.
Hancock finished with 22 points, and Chane Behanan added 15 for the Cardinals.
Burke started hot, scoring the Wolverines' first seven points, but he picked up his second foul with 11 minutes left in the first half. Enter Albrecht, a freshman reserve whose season high was seven points. He hit all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with 17 in the first half.
Albrecht's weaving layup put Michigan up 33-21 and forced Pitino to call timeout with 3:51 to play in the first half.
The Cardinals responded with a 14-3 run, fueled by Hancock, who scored Louisville's next 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
After leading by 12 with just under four minutes left in the first half, Michigan went to the locker room only up one, 38-37.
Notes: Ex-Michigan star Chris Webber was in attendance, sitting next to his former Wolverine teammates Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard. ... Pitino is the fifth coach to take two different schools to the national championship game. ... The teams combined to shoot 48.1 percent from the field in the first half, including 57.8 percent from the 3-point arc. Louisville finished at 45.9 percent overall, 50 percent on 3-pointers. Michigan hit 52.1 percent of its shots, 44.4 percent of its 3s. ... McGary and Glenn Robinson III each entered Monday's game shooting better than 60 percent from the floor in the tournament. ... Pitino improved to 6-0 in the Georgia Dome.