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. Former Boise State forward Joey Nebeker disputes school statement regarding his departure

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT

    rice Getty Images

    Boise State announced Wednesday that two players were leaving the program. Thursday, one of those players stated that he was forced out.

  2. Lawsuit filed by Dez Wells against Xavier settled Thursday

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT

    wells Getty Images

    Maryland’s Dez Wells and Xavier settled a lawsuit filed by Wells with regards to his expulsion from the school in 2012.

  3. Former Maryland center Shaquille Cleare completes transfer to Texas

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Wake Forest v Maryland Getty Images

    After spending two seasons at Maryland, big man Shaquille Cleare has decided to transfer to Texas.

  4. UNLV junior forward Khem Birch to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT

    Khem Birch AP

    UNLV junior forward Khem Birch has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  5. San Francisco sophomore guard Avry Holmes to transfer

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:56 PM EDT

    WCC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals - San Francisco v Brigham Young Getty Images

    After averaging 12.5 points per game as a sophomore, San Francisco guard Avry Holmes has decided to transfer.

  6. Arizona State lands junior college forward Willie Atwood

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Herb Sendek AP

    Arizona State lands its seventh newcomer for the 2014-15 season as forward Willie Atwood picked the Sun Devils over Florida State and Iowa.

  7. NCAA waves goodbye to hardship waivers; ‘Big Five’ leagues a step closer to autonomy

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:13 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA’s Board of Directors released some key decisions on Thursday.

  8. Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie enters 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Spencer Dinwiddie AP

    Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  9. Report: Marshall to hire Dan D’Antoni, brother of Mike D’Antoni

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dan D’Antoni spent 30 years as a high school coach in South Carolina.

  10. Jabari Parker on a potential move to two-and-done: ‘I think that’s ridiculous’

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Parker is not a fan of forcing players to stay in school for two years.

  11. Larry Eustachy: ‘My feeling is Chane is going to go pro’

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Larry Eustachy

    There are reports he’s already signed with an agent.

  12. Amida Brimah out four-to-five months with shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The seven-footer will miss some time getting a torn labrum repaired.

  13. Marcus Paige, Roy Williams dance to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    marcus paige Getty Images

    Roy Williams is not the world’s greatest dancer.

  14. Skal Labissiere is back from his back injury (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

    Skal Labissiere, Denio Chirindja

    Kentucky, Kansas and just about every elite program in the country is on the trail of the Haitian.

  15. Former Georgetown forward Moses Ayegba will transfer to Nebraska

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:57 AM EDT

    Moses Ayegba AP

    According to multiple reports, former Georgetown big Moses Ayegba has decided to transfer to Nebraska.

  16. UConn center Amida Brimah to undergo shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:17 AM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    According to a report, UConn center Amida Brimah will need to undergo surgery on his left shoulder.

  17. Shaka Smart adds former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason to VCU coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:38 PM EDT

    Shaka Smart Getty Images

    Shaka Smart filled a vacancy on his staff Wednesday, hiring former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason.

  18. Has Top 100 forward Malek Harris committed to Kansas State?

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    Less than a week after making an official visit to the school, it was reported that Malek Harris had committed to Kansas State. But that may not be the case.

  19. Tulsa head coach Frank Haith announces coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Frank Haith announced his coaching staff Wednesday, with the trio combining to have more than 90 seasons of coaching experience.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'