PHOENIX — In an NCAA Tournament that has been filled with upsets, Louisville added itself into the mix Thursday night.
The Cardinals outbattled No. 1 seed Michigan State, earning a 57-44 victory in the region semifinals at US Airways Center.
The fourth-seeded Cardinals (29-9) play seventh-seeded Florida at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for a spot in the Final Four.
Michigan State (29-8) prides itself on staunch defense. But it was Louisville whose defense dominated. The Cardinals held Michigan State to 28.6 percent shooting from the field, 23.8 percent on 3-pointers.
"One thing our press does it just wears people out," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We knew this game was going to be low scoring. We're both tied for second (nationally) in field goal defense."
It was the Cardinals' seventh straight win and kept Pitino undefeated in 10 region semifinals. Louisville had lost in the first round of the tournament the previous two seasons.
From the start, both teams struggled on offense. One field goal was scored in the first 4:20, and midway through the first half the score was 5-5.
Louisville led 23-18 at halftime, aided by a huge 3-point shooting effort. Trailing 7-5 with 10:41 remaining in the first half, the Big East tournament champion hit six field goals the remainder of the half, all 3-pointers.
With Louisville leading 35-25 and 13:05 remaining in the game, Michigan State went on a 6-0 run. Louisville regained control with a 7-0 run — aided by back-to-back turnovers by the Spartans — for a 42-31 lead with 9:22 left. Michigan State could never get back into the game.
"It's hard to feel good, and it's hard to feel bad," MSU coach Tom Izzo said. "It's hard to feel good because hardly anybody played as well as they have the last three weeks. But it's hard to feel bad because Louisville deserved to win. They outboarded us, they took it at us pretty good, and every time we cut the lead, they pulled away again. This team has had a heck of a run. We ran out of game a little bit emotionally and physically."
Information from Times wires was used in this report.