ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s not always pretty with Louisville. And sometimes, it’s ugly by design.
The defending national champions shrugged off poor shooting, 19 turnovers and a subpar performance by star Russ Smith and still won handily Saturday to get back to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.
“Everything’s not going to be sweet or pretty,” Smith said after a 66-51 victory over Saint Louis. “We’re just getting the job done.”
Luke Hancock scored 21 points and the battled-tested Cardinals (31-5) won with defense.
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Saint Louis (27-7) missed all 15 of its three-point shots and turned the ball over 18 times in losing in the third round for the third consecutive year.
“These guys have had a lot of wins under their belt, a lot of great tournament experiences,” said coach Rick Pitino, who huddled with the Cardinals after watching Florida wear down Pittsburgh in Orlando earlier in the day.
“I said, ‘Guys, that’s the exact game you’re going to be in, and you’re going to have to be the prettiest team in an ugly game because that’s the way it’s going to be,’ ” Pitino said. “We grinded out a win, and that’s what the NCAA tournament is all about.”
The fourth-seeded Cardinals, who are looking for a third straight trip to the Final Four, move on the Midwest Regional semifinals in Indianapolis against either No. 1 seed Wichita State or Kentucky.
“Obviously, they’ve got a chance to repeat,” Saint Louis coach Jim Crews said of Louisville’s chances of winning it all again.
Dwayne Evans led Saint Louis, which has never been to the Sweet 16, with 16 points. Atlantic 10 player of the year Jordair Jett finished with 15.
Chris Jones made a couple of huge shots and scored 11 points for Louisville.
Pitino improved to 50-16 in the NCAA tournament, including a 16-0 mark in the round of 16.
Michigan 79, Texas 65
MILWAUKEE — Nik Stauskas and the Wolverines figured out the best way to overcome the Longhorns’ advantage inside.
Just keep hitting from long range.
Stauskas made four of Michigan’s 14 three-pointers, and the Wolverines beat the Longhorns to advance to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
Stauskas finished with 17 points and eight assists as Michigan (27-8) moved on to this week’s Midwest Regional semifinals in Indianapolis. The second-seeded Wolverines will face the winner of Sunday’s Mercer-Tennessee game.
Michigan lost to Louisville in the national-championship game a year ago. But the Wolverines are rolling again, thanks to strong outside shooting and Jordan Morgan’s work inside.
Isiah Taylor scored 22 on 8-for-22 shooting for Texas (24-11).