DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Go ahead, Louisville. Dance away.
The NCAA tournament's top team had a few early missteps Friday,
but uncoiled its full-court press in the second half and rolled to
a 74-54 victory over Morehead State that completed 25 years of
perfection by No. 1 seeds.
Louisville (29-5) will play either Ohio State or Siena in the
second round on Sunday in the Midwest Regional.
With the win, No. 1 seeds improved to 100-0 against No. 16s
since the tournament expanded in 1985. There have been a few close
calls, and Morehead State (21-16) kept up for a half.
Then, history set in.
Samardo Samuels led Louisville with 15 points. Terrence
Williams, who danced a little prematurely at midcourt before the
game, added 13 points and nine rebounds. Kenneth Faried had 14
points and 11 rebounds for Morehead State.
The University of Dayton Arena became a pressure cooker for two
No. 1 seeds from the Big East on Friday. Pittsburgh, the top seed
in the East Regional, had the worst of it, unable to shake East
Tennessee State until the final minutes of a 72-62 win.
An hour later, the Cardinals took the floor in a mood to party.
By halftime, they had that upset feeling in the Pitt of their
Williams had extended his long, tattoo-covered arms and boogied
at midcourt when the Morehead State pep band played "We Got The
Funk" during pregame warmups, an indication that the tournament's
top team - one with two titles already on its resume - was in the
mood for some celebrating.
The Cardinals went to their full-court press right away and
forced turnovers to forge a 17-7 lead. The Eagles looked
overmatched against a team that was once their equal, back in the
days when they played two or three times a year while basketball
took root in the bluegrass state. The Cardinals haven't lost to the
Eagles in the last 52 years, winning the last 13 games, most of
them by huge margins.
Instead of fading, Morehead State returned to its staples -
solid defense and rebounding - to make it a game. Maze Stallworth,
who grew up 20 minutes from Freedom Hall but didn't get a
recruiting call from the Cardinals, hit back-to-back 3s that evened
it up and set up a little more 1-vs.-16 drama.
By halftime, the Big East's regular-season and conference champs
knew the score - leading only 35-33. None of them even spoke or
cracked a smile during warmups for the second half.
The dancing was done. Time to get serious.
Williams took only three shots in the first half and had three
points, one of the reasons the Cardinals couldn't pull away. He had
a pair of jumpers and a 3-pointer during a 22-6 run that opened the
second half and set the Cardinals on course for the second round.
The full-court press that had lost its sting in the first half
was back with a bite, forcing errant passes and rushed shots.
Morehead State finished with 20 turnovers.
The two Kentucky teams played an almost identical game last Nov.
22 at Freedom Hall, with Morehead State trailing by nine points at
halftime before wearing down and losing by 38.
Despite the loss, it was an upbeat tournament trip for the
Eagles, who hadn't reached it in 25 years. They beat Alabama State
on Tuesday in the opener, playing their way into a first-round
rematch with the team that's only 141 miles of interstate away.
LOUISVILLE 74, MOREHEAD ST. 54
MOREHEAD ST. (20-16)
Stallworth 5-11 0-0 14, Buchanan 6-16 5-6 17, Faried 6-8 2-5 14, Shingles 1-5 3-3 5, Harper 1-9 0-0 2, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Murry 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Echols 0-0 0-0 0, Lamb 0-0 0-0 0, Peterson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 20-52 10-14 54.
Williams 5-9 0-0 13, Clark 6-8 0-1 12, Samuels 6-10 3-5 15, McGee 3-4 0-0 8, Smith 3-4 0-0 7, Knowles 1-6 0-0 3, Sosa 3-4 1-1 9, Delk 0-0 0-0 0, Swopshire 1-3 2-4 5, Goode 0-0 0-0 0, Jennings 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 29-50 6-11 74.
Halftime-Louisville 35-33. 3-Point Goals-Morehead St. 4-11 (Stallworth 4-8, Harper 0-3), Louisville 10-24 (Williams 3-7, McGee 2-3, Sosa 2-3, Smith 1-2, Swopshire 1-3, Knowles 1-5, Clark 0-1). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Morehead St. 27 (Faried 11), Louisville 29 (Williams 9). Assists-Morehead St. 12 (Shingles 5), Louisville 19 (Clark 5). Total Fouls-Morehead St. 10, Louisville 16. A-12,499.