Louisville wins 2nd Big East championship

By Jim O'connell

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 10 2012 9:25 p.m. MST

Louisville's Wayne Blackshear (25) passes away from Cincinnati's Justin Jackson (5) to teammate Gorgui Dieng (10), of Senegal, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Big East Conference tournament in New York, Saturday, March 10, 2012.

Frank Franklin II, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Chris Smith scored 15 points and Louisville withstood a closing run by Cincinnati for a 50-44 victory Saturday night that gave the Cardinals their second Big East tournament championship.

Kyle Kuric added 13 points for seventh-seeded Louisville (26-9), which was in the championship for the third time. The Cardinals won the title in 2009 and lost to Connecticut in last year's championship game.

Cashmere Wright had 16 points for the fourth-seeded Bearcats (24-10), who were in the title game for the first time.

This was in the first time in the 34 years the tournament has been held that at least one of the original seven members of the conference wasn't in the championship game.

Louisville looked to be in control when Smith hit a 3-pointer that gave the Cardinals a 44-28 lead with 8:27 to play. But Wright had nine points in a 16-4 run that brought the Bearcats within 48-44 with 2:35 to play.

Russ Smith's two free throws were the only points either team scored the rest of the way. Cincinnati had three possession trailing by four points but came up empty on each of them.

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