Louisville only played ACC rival NC State once this season and lost at home on Valentine’s Day.
Friday was a different story.
The fourth-seeded Cardinals took down No. 8 NC State, 75-65, in the Sweet 16 to advance to the Elite Eight. Louisville trailed 33-31 at halftime but outscored the Wolfpack 44-32 thereafter to win by double digits.
“We played a lot better than we did the first time,” Louisville guard Anton Gill said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They’re a really good team, really talented. We stuck to the game plan, and we were able to get it done.”
Louisville shot 50 percent from the floor, finished with more assists, steals and blocks than the Wolfpack, and held its own on the glass against a bigger NC State squad. The Cardinals were simply the better team.
“That was our biggest thing,” Gill said. “The first game, we feel like we didn’t play up to our potential. So we just wanted to give maximum effort knowing it’s a tournament game, knowing you can go home at any time. We just wanted to give everything we had.”
The Cardinals were led, as usual, by Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier. Harrell had a game-high 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go with seven rebounds, four assists and one block.
“He’s been huge for us all year,” Gill said. “As a captain, as a leader, he was one of the best players in the country, and he always lives up to it in big games. We knew we would get that (from him).”
Rozier, meanwhile, finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, four assist and a steal. Yes, 14 rebounds. Rozier is 6-1.
“That’s just how Terry is,” Gill said. “He’s the toughest guard in the nation. He does a lot of big things for us. Those two, they could take us as far as we need to go.”
Gill, meanwhile, was the only Cardinal to score off the bench. He was a perfect 3-of-3 from the floor and finished with seven points, two steals and one assist.
“I just had to be ready when my name was called,” Gill said. “Just be ready to make anything happen. I was able to step into it and knock it down, but that’s part of the job of coming off the bench.”
NC State shot 9-of-20 (45 percent) from beyond the arc but just 14-of-40 (35 percent) from inside it.
Louisville (27-8), which plays No. 7 Michigan State (26-11) on Sunday, is now one game from the Final Four. Not bad for a team that dropped four of eight before the NCAA Tournament.
“It feels great,” Gill said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet that we’re in the Elite Eight. We’re just trying to get ready and prepare, but we feel good and we’re confident about what we’re doing. We’re ready to keep this thing going.”
Tip-off on Sunday is slated for 2:20 p.m. ET.