Guard scores 31 in Louisville win; Duke beats Michigan State.
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Indianapolis • Even a nasty cold can't stop Russ Smith.
With his teammates struggling with the virus he gave them and top-seeded Louisville facing its toughest test of the postseason, Russ put on his best show yet. He matched his career high of 31 points and the Cardinals proved they can win close games, too, beating Oregon 77-69 on Friday night.
"Without Russ Smith, we couldn't win," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who improved to 11-0 in the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.
Louisville (32-5) moves on to play Duke on Sunday, hoping to advance to the Final Four for the second straight year.
Louisville has been nearly untouchable during its 13-game winning streak, beating opponents by an average of 17 points. And it looked as if this was going to be more of the same when Smith outscored Oregon 9-8 through the first 10 minutes.
But the 12th-seeded Ducks (28-9) made a game of it late.
After Louisville went up 66-48 with 9:01 left, Oregon made six straight field goals to close to 70-64 the closest anyone's been to the Cardinals in weeks. But Kevin Ware scored on a layup and Chane Behanan threw down a monstrous dunk to put the game out of reach.
Duke 71, Michigan State 61 • Seth Curry shot Duke right into the regional finals and put Mike Krzyzewski on the verge of another milestone.
Curry scored 29 points and the Blue Devils beat Michigan State to advance to the Midwest Regional final.
If No. 2 seed Duke (30-5) beats top-seeded Louisville (32-5) in Sunday's regional final, Krzyzewski would tie John Wooden's record with 12 Final Four trips.