Skip to content

Louisville’s unsung heroes deliver in win over Wichita State

Apr 6, 2013, 8:46 PM EDT

Louisville Cardinals' Hancock and teammate Henderson celebrate near the end of their NCAA men's Final Four basketball game against the Wichita State Shockers in Atlanta Reuters

ATLANTA — On a team that includes Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan, how many people would have guessed that the two most important players for Louisville in its 72-68 win over Wichita State in the Final Four on Saturday would be Luke Hancock and Tim Henderson.

It’s fitting, really.

The Cardinals knocked off the Shockers, a team made up of misfits that have spent their career being under-recruited and looked over, on a night when their two castoffs did the heavy-lifting.

Wichita State looked like they were pulling away. After the Shockers got an offensive rebound off of a missed free throw, Cleanthony Early, who finished with 24 points, buried a three from the left wing to give Gregg Marshall’s club a 47-35 lead. Louisville was rattled. Wichita State had done a terrific job of cutting off penetration and forcing the Cardinals into jump shots, and their struggles on the offensive end of the floor extended onto the defensive end as well.

There was no energy in that Louisville press. They hadn’t forced a turnover in almost 20 minutes of game-time. The Shockers were in complete control.

And then Hancock found Henderson wide-open in the corner for a three. 42 seconds later, after Ehimen Orukpe airballed the front-end of a one-and-one, Smith drew a defender and found Henderson.

Same spot.

Wide open.

Same result.

Henderson’s six points in 42 seconds gave Louisville life. He’s a walk-on. He scored three points in all of Big East play. He’s only set foot on the court because Kevin Ware couldn’t.

“We had a defensive game-plan to just be in the gaps and force them to shoot those shots,” Early said. It worked for the first 27 minutes until Henderson broke through. “He just happened to knock them down.”

From there, it was the Luke Hancock Show. On Louisville’s next two possessions, Hancock sliced through the Wichita State defense, finishing a pair of layups at the rim. It was the first time that Louisville had really found a way to get into the teeth of the Shocker defense.

With 6:45 left in the game, Wichita State finally committed their first turnover of the second half — and first since the 13:04 mark of the first half. In the scramble for the loose ball, Hancock found himself left alone in the corner, burying a three to give the Cardinal’s their first lead since of the second half. Wichita State kept things interesting, trading buckets and never falling behind by more than one possession until Hancock drilled another three with 2:06 left in the game. With six seconds left in the game, Hancock missed a free throw that would have put the Cardinals up by four points, but instead of giving up on the rebound, he forced a jump-ball with Wichita State’s Ron Baker, giving the Cardinals the ball back.

“He didn’t get named captain for nothing before he even played a game for us,” Siva said. “He showed his leadership out there tonight.”

Hancock is a transfer from George Mason. He’s had an up-and-down season as he’s dealt with the recovery from shoulder surgery.

There is always a run coming from Louisville. It’s what their known for. It’s why they’re so successful. Once that press gets going, it snowballs. The Cardinals forced five turnovers in a seven possession stretch at one point, and that just so happened to coincide with their comeback.

But the spark that set the run off didn’t come from any of Louisville’s all-americans or future NBA Draft picks.

It came from a pair of guys that refer to themselves as the zone-busters in practice because of their ability to shoot.

“Tim hits shots all the time,” Hancock said. “It wasn’t shocking for us for him to knock down shots like that.”

He’s more than just a zone-buster now.

He’s a run-starter.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Throwback Thursday: When we realized Russell Westbrook was a freak (VIDEO)

    Aug 27, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Westbrook wasn’t a top 25 prospect in high school. He was a top three player in the NBA last year.

  2. Blue Ribbon announces their preseason all-american team

    Aug 27, 2015, 10:50 AM EDT

    Blue Ribbon

    It’s the first preseason all-american team that we’ve seen this summer.

  3. Cody Zeller, Indiana president speak out against recent athlete legal issues

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:41 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Zeller handed out a warning. Michael McRobbie was a bit more upset.

  4. Five-star 2016 combo guard cuts list to four

    Aug 26, 2015, 10:38 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    Frank Jackson will take an official visit to one of the four schools this weekend.

  5. Highlights of Michigan State’s Italy trip-opening win over Basket Fiorentina

    Aug 26, 2015, 9:31 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Bryn Forbes scored 18 points to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Spartans.

  6. Indiana president none too pleased with recent legal issues involving student-athletes

    Aug 26, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT

    Michael McRobbie AP

    Michael McRobbie’s address came two days after Emmitt Holt and Thomas Bryant were cited for illegal possession of alcohol.

  7. Seton Hall to give scholarship basketball players $2,600 towards cost of attendance

    Aug 26, 2015, 5:41 PM EDT

    Kevin Willard AP

    Seton Hall AD said his coaches haven’t had to deal with negative recruiting re: cost of attendance stipends, but he’s ready to act if so.

  8. Xavier, Mount St. Joseph to launch the ‘Lauren Hill Tip-Off Classic’

    Aug 26, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Lauren Hill raised more than $1.8 million for pediatric cancer research before she passed away.

  9. LSU highlights from Australia trip (VIDEO)

    Aug 26, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Get a look at potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons.

  10. Richard Pitino gets contract extension, comments on Norwood Teague

    Aug 26, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    He’s still the second-highest paid Pitino in the coaching world.

  11. Times, networks announced for SEC/Big 12 Challenge

    Aug 26, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT

    Reuters Reuters

    A battle between Kentucky and Kansas headlines this event.

  12. 10 year old Ohio State fan worried heart surgery would make him love Michigan

    Aug 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    2ljfrxdhjejmccpdr5ccycxi2

    There’s really nothing more important than that for a 10-year old boy.

  13. Summer mixtape of four-star guard Jaylen Fisher (VIDEO)

    Aug 25, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Class of 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher had some great highlights this summer.

  14. Could a small change help Utah’s Jakob Poeltl improve his free throw numbers?

    Aug 25, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Jakob Poeltl, Jordan McLaughlin AP

    Jakob Poeltl is a potential top-10 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but he has to improve his 44 percent free-throw shooting.

  15. Kansas State forward cleared to return

    Aug 25, 2015, 8:20 PM EDT

    D.J. Johnson AP

    Kansas State is getting an experienced forward back in its rotation.

  16. St. John’s has its first non-conference schedule set under Chris Mullin

    Aug 25, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    St. John’s has some tough games during its first non-conference schedule under Chris Mullin.

  17. Cincinnati exploring renovation for Fifth Third Arena

    Aug 25, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin, Mike Aresco AP

    Cincinnati could soon be getting a much-needed upgrade to Fifth Third Arena.

  18. Is Louisville’s non-conference schedule weak by design?

    Aug 25, 2015, 3:24 PM EDT

    pitino Getty Images

    L’ville isn’t likely to face a tough non-conference schedule, but was it done by design to help a transitioning squad?

  19. Oklahoma State adds former head coach to complete coaching staff

    Aug 25, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Bill Grier spent eight years as head coach at San Diego.