Missouri, which trailed 22-12 at one point, went on a 15-7 run to cut the deficit to 29-27 before Louisville closed the half with a 10-4 spurt to take a 39-31 lead into the break.
It was only a precursor of things to come, of course. Missouri opened the half with four straight points, but Louisville promptly went on a 11-0 run, aided by a stretch that began when the Cardinals made a three and stole an outlet pass. Chane Behanan made a basket and was fouled, but the Cardinals rebounded his miss and followed with a three-pointer to take a commanding 50-35 lead.
Louisville continued its breakneck pace, and the Tigers never got closer than 10 the rest of the way as the Cardinals, who outrebounded the Tigers 37-32 and had five players finish in double figures, shot 65 percent in the second half and advanced to tonight's championship game at 9:30 against Duke.
Senior center Alex Oriakhi (15 points, eight rebounds) and Pressey (15 points, eight turnovers, seven assists) were the leading scorers for Missouri, which dropped to 4-1 and fell into the consolation bracket, where it will face Virginia Commonwealth in the third-place game at 6 tonight.
Missouri won't have much time to lick its wounds. In VCU, which lost to Duke in the semifinals, the Tigers will face a team that presses and plays defense in a manner similar to Louisville.
So while they were undoubtedly overwhelmed against the speedy and defensive-minded Cardinals, the experience could potentially serve them well against the Rams. For a team still learning to play together — and one no doubt frustrated after Friday's loss — it will be surely be a learning experience, the kind coaches enter their teams in these tournaments to get.
MCT Information Services