No. 21 Lobos Fall In Third Round To No. 18 Cardinals, 59-56
March 18, 2012
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Drew Gordon shrugged off an injured left knee and tried to rally New Mexico to an upset of Louisville in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Lobos trailed by as many as 15 points before narrowing the deficit to two against the Cardinals, but it wasn't quite enough as fourth-seeded Louisville won 59-56.
The 6-foot-9 senior, New Mexico's top scorer, crumpled to the floor late in the first half with what looked like a serious knee injury. Helped to the locker room, he quickly returned with the knee wrapped, finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
"I felt a couple of pops but the doc checked me out and said I was okay," he said. "Can't finish my senior season out going out with an injury."
Russ Smith had 17 points for Louisville, which advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2009.
Kyle Kuric and Chane Behanan each added 10 points for the Big East tournament champions, who lost their first game of the NCAA tournament the past two seasons.
Trailing 53-46, New Mexico's Gordon hit a pair of free throws, and Demetrius Walker made a 3-pointer to pull to within 53-51 with 1:36 left. Smith made a pair of free throws for fourth-seeded Louisville (28-9), but Gordon answered with a tip-in.
Gorgui Dieng dunked with 32.3 seconds left, and Peyton Siva added free throws to make it 59-53. Gordon dropped a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left, but it was too late for the fifth seeded Lobos (28-7), who have never been to the round of 16.
"That last minute there were a couple of possessions that were a little bit crazy and seemed like the ball just bounced their way," Lobos coach Steve Alford said. "But I don't think we didn't get a loose ball or those type of things because of nerves. I think the guys were over that by that time of the game."
Louisville, which led by as many as 15 points in the second half, advances to the West Regional semifinals in Columbus to face the winner of Sunday's game between Michigan State and Saint Louis.
"Making a run in the second half - it was a great feeling," Walker said. "I actually thought we were going to come back. But we weren't able to get over the hump, and hopefully next time we can."
New Mexico which knocked off UNLV and San Diego State to win the Mountain West tournament, had won 13 of 15 and six straight entering Saturday night's game against the Cardinals.
The last time Louisville and New Mexico played was in the second round of the NCAA East Regional in 1997. Louisville held off the rallying Lobos - who missed a layup with three second left - to win 64-63. The Cardinals went on to beat Texas before falling to North Carolina in the regional final.