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Louisville sloppy but alive

Forward Luke Hancock has 21 points for Louisville, which reaches the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.

Associated Press

Forward Luke Hancock has 21 points for Louisville, which reaches the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.

ORLANDO — It's not always pretty with Louisville. And sometimes, it's ugly by design.

The defending national champions shrugged off poor shooting, 19 turnovers and a subpar performance by star Russ Smith and still won handily Saturday to get to the Sweet 16 for the third straight year.

"Everything's not going to be sweet or pretty," Smith said after a 66-51 victory over St. Louis. "We're just getting the job done."

Luke Hancock scored 21, and the battled-tested Cardinals (31-5) won with defense.

The Billikens (27-7) missed all 15 of their 3-pointers and turned the ball over 18 times in losing in the third round for the third consecutive year.

"These guys have had a lot of wins under their belt, a lot of great tournament experiences," said coach Rick Pitino, who huddled with the Cardinals after watching Florida wear down Pittsburgh in Orlando.

"I said, 'Guys, that's the exact game you're going to be in. And you're going to have to be the prettiest team in an ugly game because that's the way it's going to be.' … We grinded out a win, and that's what the NCAA Tournament is all about."

The fourth-seeded Cardinals, who are looking for a third straight Final Four trip, move on to the Midwest Region semifinals in Indianapolis against No. 1 seed Wichita State or No. 8 Kentucky.

"Obvious, they've got a chance to repeat," St. Louis coach Jim Crews said of Louisville's chances of winning it all again.

Dwayne Evans had 16 points for St. Louis, which has never been to the Sweet 16. Atlantic 10 player of the year Jordair Jett finished with 15.

Chris Jones made a couple of huge shots and scored 11 for Louisville. Montrezl Harrell put a punctuation mark on the victory with a dunk that gave him 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Pitino improved to 50-16 in the tournament. The Cardinals are in the region semifinals for the 20th time, matching Kansas and trailing only North Carolina (25), Kentucky (24) and Duke (23).

MICHIGAN 79, TEXAS 65: Nik Stauskas and the Wolverines figured out the best way to overcome the Longhorns' advantage inside: good shooting.

Stauskas made four of Michigan's 14 3-pointers, and the Wolverines rolled in Milwaukee to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.

"Huge win for us," coach John Beilein said. "These guys believe, and they did a great job."

Stauskas had 17 points and matched a career high with eight assists as Michigan (27-8) moved on to next week's Midwest Region semifinals. The second-seeded Wolverines will face the winner of today's Mercer-Tennessee game.

Michigan lost to Louisville in the national championship game a year ago. But the Wolve­rines are rolling again thanks to strong outside shooting and Jordan Morgan's work inside.

"What I do like about this team is they've never lost two in a row. They've been resilient," Beilein said. "They get better in both victory and defeat."

Isiah Taylor scored 22 on 8-for-22 shooting for the seventh-seeded Longhorns (24-11), who outrebounded Michigan 41-30.

Michigan made 14 of 28 3-pointers and 17 of 21 free throws in its ninth win in the past 10 games. Morgan had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Louisville sloppy but alive 03/22/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 22, 2014 11:11pm]

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