- Jason King
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NASSAU, Bahamas -- A few quick thoughts from Louisville’s 84-61 victory over Missouri in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament:
Overview: The best college basketball tournament in the nation will feature two of the country’s top teams in the title game.
Hours after No. 5 Duke edged Virginia Commonwealth in one semifinal, second-ranked Louisville followed suit in the other with a dominating win over No. 13 Missouri. Rick Pitino’s squad pressured the Tigers into 23 turnovers, including eight by Cousy Award candidate Phil Pressey. Louisville led 39-31 at intermission and never looked back in the second half. Luke Hancock scored 19 points for the Cardinals and Russ Smith added 18.
Saturday’s championship between Duke and Louisville will feature two of college basketball’s most legendary coaches in Mike Krzyzewski and Pitino.
“He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time,” Krzyzewski said of Pitino. “If he wouldn’t have gone to the pros he’d probably have more wins than me.”
Turning point: The game was still close late in the first half after a 3-pointer by Pressey shaved Louisville’s lead to 33-30. Louisville’s Smith countered with a short jumper on the other end, then stole the ball shortly after the ensuing in-bounds pass for an easy layup. Just like that, the Cardinals led 37-30. Missouri’s momentum was squelched going into halftime.
Star of the game: Hancock had his best game to date as a Cardinal. The George Mason transfer scored his 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He made five of his seven 3-point attempts. Smith had six steals to go along with his 18 points.
Key stat: Louisville scored 31 points off of Missouri’s 23 turnovers.
Miscellaneous: One of the sexier side stories entering the game was the point-guard matchup between Pressey and Peyton Siva, both of whom were named preseason player of the year in their respective conferences. Siva definitely got the better of Pressey in this battle with 13 points, 6 assists and 1 turnover. Pressey had 15 points, 7 assists and 8 turnovers.
Up next: Saturday’s Duke-Louisville title game tips off at 9:30 p.m. ET. Missouri will play VCU in the third-place game at 7.