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Louisville rolls past Missouri, meets Duke in Battle 4 Atlantis final

Nov 24, 2012, 1:04 AM EDT

Russ Smith

The Battle 4 Atlantis final will be between a pair of top-5 teams as Duke will take on Louisville Saturday night.

Hours after No. 5 Duke was able to hold off the havoc VCU Rams, Louisville was able to breeze past the No. 13 Missouri Tigers, 84-61.

Missouri was plagued with turnovers all night long, giving up the ball 22 times, which led to 31 points for Louisville. The Cardinals, who struggled shooting the ball against Northern Iowa on Thursday night, got an unlikely source of offense

Transfer forward Luke Hancock entered Friday night with 23 total points on the season. In 28 minutes of action, and a handful of 3-pointers, the 6-foot-6 reserve forward ended with a game-high 19 points.

The Cards started the half with a 39-31 lead, the Tigers quickly got within four. Louisville responded with an 11-0 run, that opened up the game for Rick Pitino’s squad.

Peyton Siva won the matchup with Phil Pressey, as the Mizzou guard struggled with seven assists to eight turnovers on the night. Alex Oriakhi had 15 points and 8 rebounds for Mizzou, while Russ Smith added 18 points with six rebounds and six steals.

Missouri is still without guard Michael Dixon, who is serving a suspension. The trio of guards replacing his production – Keion Bell, Earnest Ross, and Negus Webster-Chan – combined for 3-of-10 for 15 points.

Saturday’s matchup doesn’t just include a battle of two teams that will contend for a national title, but rather a reunion of Coach K and Pitino sharing the floor for the first time since the 1992 East regional final. Yup, the Christian Laettner shot game.

Duke was able to contain the ball, only turning the ball over eight times against VCU, Louisville was able to force 22 turnovers against Mizzou. The Blue Devils should have the advantage in the middle with Mason Plumlee, as U of L’s Gorgui Dieng dealt with foul trouble in Friday’s semifinals, but the Cards’ benefited from solid minutes from reserve forward Stephan Van Treese.

The championship game begins at 9:30 pm on the NBC Sports Network.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

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