The Mountaineers were all over the Cardinals early, amassing a twenty-point lead thanks to ridiculously hot shooting from behind the arc - forcing Pitino to adjust his famous zone defense at halftime.
MI made a Big Ten, NCAA Tournament record 16 [of 29] triples in Friday's 92-91 win over Oklahoma State, and the Wolverines needed every one of them to win. The Big Ten Tournament champs don't foul much and take care of the ball, too, as evidenced by the four turnovers they had in a first-round win over Oklahoma State. "That being said, we're playing against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday".
But there was no escaping it on Saturday as he held court with reporters here in advance of Louisville's second-round NCAA Tournament game against MI. "It's incredible the way they shoot the basketball, so it's going to be a tough task for us". I've never seen shooting like that since I've been a coach. The Cardinals have won all three meetings in the series, including the 2013 national championship game. "We weren't going to beat (other teams) if we said, 'We're going to play down in the trenches with you and we're going to outjump, outrun you.' We weren't going to do that". "My respect for (Beilein) as a basketball coach is off the charts". His teams are fun to watch, well coached, well drilled.
MI enters the round of 32 on a major roll, riding a six-game winning streak and going 5-1 against the spread during that stretch. However, the sophomore had 10 rebounds and five assists as the Cardinals advanced.
"This is a very inexperienced team", he said. None are explosive scorers but each knows his role: Ray Spalding as a rebounder (5.7 per game), VJ King and Ryan McMahon as occasional three-point shooters and Anas Mahmoud as a shot blocker.
Norbertas Giga scored 30 points for 15th-seeded Jacksonville State (20-15), which was one of a record five teams making their first tourney appearance.
Mitchell finished the day with nine points. Senior guard Greg Tucker added 11 points.
Jackson is friends with several Michigan State players including freshman Miles Bridges.
The game tips off tomorrow on CBS. You would think they would know all about Grant Hill, because it hasn't been that long.
"We know what we're in for", said Pitino, who added he was courtside when his son Richard Pitino's Minnesota squad played MI earlier this year.
The Gamecocks figured it was only a matter of time before the Cardinals got untracked on the offensive end.
That was a reference to a play you might recall from a 1992 East Regional final that ended with Hill passing to Christian Laettner for a game-winning basket for Duke against Pitino's Kentucky team.
"I tell them stories about Bernard King all the time", he said, "and I realize as I'm telling them that, they have no clue who Bernard King was". From late January to late February, no player was better than Louisville's Donovan Mitchell, averaging 22 points per game, earning him first-team All-ACC honors.
Louisville stretched out to a 55-38 lead on a Snider 3-pointer at 12:19. Louisville kept their composure by hitting timely shots to stay ahead by double digits.