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. Head coach’s son becomes Iowa’s first 2017 commitment

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    mccaffery Getty Images

    Connor McCaffery was expected to play for his father, and he announced the intention to do so Saturday.

  2. Four-star shooting guard to announce decision September 5

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT

    Jorge Lopez/Nike Jorge Lopez/Nike

    The Floridian averaged 26 points per game as a high school junior.

  3. SMU center’s double-double leads Angola to win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    SMU v Memphis Getty Images

    Yanick Moreira missed time last season due to injury, so this month could prove incredibly valuable for both he and the SMU program he’ll rejoin.

  4. Providence’s non-conference slate headlined by Kentucky, four ACC foes

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Providence is looking to reach consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

  5. Junior college guard verbally commits to Western Kentucky

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    Franklin Edmond averaged 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a freshman.

  6. Two Auburn players taking indefinite leave of absence

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    After a big recruiting week for Auburn, two players from the current roster are leaving the program.

  7. Cincinnati announces non-conference schedule

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    Cincinnati has some tough opponents in the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 schedule.

  8. Utah State forward granted sixth year of eligibility by NCAA

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Stew Morrill AP

    Utah State returns a veteran locker-room presence.

  9. Providence adds late 2014 commitment to bolster guard depth

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Providence added another piece for the 2014-15 season late this week.

  10. Summer mixtape of four-star guard P.J. Dozier (VIDEO)

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    P.J. Dozier

    P.J. Dozier had a big summer on the grassroots circuit.

  11. SMU, Louisville headline Indiana’s non-conference schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Indiana will take on the SMU, Louisville, Georgetown, Butler and Pittsburgh before the New Year.

  12. Four-star 2016 guard remains ineligible to play this season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline Kelly Kline

    The 6-foot-2 guard has 30 days to appeal the decision.

  13. Kentucky gives walk-on a scholarship for 2014-2015 season

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    According to a report on Friday, a Kentucky sophomore earned a scholarship.

  14. College dunk champ Marcus Lewis shows off against streetball all-star team (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Lewis

    Marcus Lewis defeated Cory Jefferson and Adreian Payne in the college slam dunk contest in April

  15. Former Illinois great tweets why Jalen Brunson should stay in state

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg1y2mznddmzmeymjrjowyxmgfky2zhndqymjlhnjvh AP

    Dee Brown, a member of Illinois’ national runner-up team in 2005, would love to see Brunson in an Illinois uniform.

  16. College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    News and notes from around the world of college basketball.

  17. Former Michigan center discusses hasty departure for the NBA (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Mitch McGary AP

    Mitch McGary discusses the circumstances that led to his early departure.

  18. American Athletic Conference releases 2014-15 schedule

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Kevin Ollie AP

    The teams expected by many to finish in the top five will all face each other twice in 2014-15.

  19. Medical issue forces FGCU freshman guard to redshirt

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:36 AM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida Gulf Coast v Radford Getty Images

    Zach Johnson was a player the Eagles could have used to add some depth to their backcourt.