Terry Rozier put together one of the best games of his college career on Sunday night, popping off for 25 points and seven assists to lead No. 4 Louisville to a 66-53 win over No. 5 Northern Iowa.
The win will send the Cardinals into the Sweet 16, where they will take on No. 8 N.C. State. The Wolfpack knocked off No. 1 Villanova on Saturday night.
Northern Iowa had an early lead in the Round of 32, but Louisville went on a 12-3 run that gave them a 17-13 lead that the Cardinals would never relinquish. The Panthers had their chances in the second half to really cut into Louisville’s lead, which was pushed to as much as 12 early in the second half, but UNI whiffed on a number of chances. Missed open threes, poorly timed turnovers, losing Montrezl Harrell behind the defense.
The biggest blow came with around five minutes left. UNI had cut Louisville’s lead to six when the Cardinals committed turnover. The Panthers had a run out that looked like it would result in an easy dunk, but Wayne Blackshear chased down Wes Washpun and blocked a dunk:
On the ensuing Louisville possession, Rozier found Harrell for an alley-oop, and that was more or less all she wrote.
The good news for Louisville is that Rick Pitino seems to have this group peaking at the right time. Quentin Snider is playing his best basketball of the season, and while he’s no where near the defender that Chris Jones was, he makes their offense run much, much better. And here’s the crazy part: Harrell hasn’t yet played well in the tournament.
I guess there’s a reason that this is the fourth straight Sweet 16 that Pitino has been to.
For Northern Iowa, this is the end of what was a sensational season. The Panthers won 30 games and the Missouri Valley Tournament, but against Louisville, they struggled to make the threes that they had hit all season long. Seth Tuttle finished with 14 points, but he was just 4-for-7 from the floor and had three turnovers and one assist as it looked like he was struggling with the length of the Cardinals front line.