For the second time in a row, Luke Hancock came off the bench to keep Louisville on the right course, ending an incredible finish to the season with the NCAA tournament title, making Rick Pitino the first head coach to win two national titles with two different schools, while Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan more than made up for the fact that Russ Smith didn’t really show up on the most important game of his career.
Hancock, deservedly, won the tournament’s most outstanding player award, the first substitute to come up with it. He scored 22 points, equaling a season high for him in a year that was somewhat of a downgrade for him in terms of status and playing time compared with his sophomore season. He hit four consecutive three pointers after coming on in the first half and hit his fifth with 3:20 left in the second half, to give the Cardinals a 76-66 lead. With the Wolverines not going away, he made a couple of free throws with 29 seconds left, wrapping up the game.
Michigan made it close, but the rebounding and turnovers eventually led to a 76-82 loss. Trey Burke was very hard to stop with 24 points, but he also turned the ball over four times, and it was his controversial foul (was a clean block according to the replays) on Peyton Siva with Louisville leading 67-64 and 5:09 left in the game that gave Louisville the push it needed to create enough separation for the rest of the game.
The Wolverines turned the ball over 12 times, but worst was their inability to keep Louisville out of the paint or off the offensive glass. The Wovlerines themselves were limited to only one offensive rebound in the second half, wasting their fantastic shooting night, making 52.1% of the field goal attempts. The Cards grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the second half, with Behanan and Gorgui Dieng being extremely hard to stop, combining for 12 offensive rebounds on the night.
Louisville attempted 23 of its 35 second-half field goals in the paint, making 11 of those shots. Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan combined to score 24 of Louisville’s 34 paint points, 18 of which came in the second half. They finished with 22 points in the paint and 13 in transition during the second half, as Siva, him again, being the main player in that aspect with 0 of the Cardinals’ 22 points in the paint and six of their 13 transition points.