Darrell Griffith put on a dazzling one-man show to lead Louisville to an easy 76-68 victory over St. John's and Notre Dame barely extended itself in drubbing bewildered Houston, 100-77, in the first-round NCAA tournament games yesterday at Oral Roberts University.
Notre Dame will meet Utah and Louisville plays DePaul.
Louisville ran off 14 straight points early in the second half to take a 17 point lead, but St. John's with center George Johnson scoring from all over, nibbled the Louisville lead to four points at 64-60 with 3:50 to play.
Then Griffith, a 6-foot-3 1/2 sophomore guard, took control. He scored the game's next eight points, six of them from the foul line and Louisville coasted.
Griffith finished with 25 points: He hit the long jumpers, including a 35-footer to end the first half, he worked inside for twisting layups or short turn-around jumpers and he slamdrunked a couple of 10b passes.
"He's the undertaker. He's the one who puts the final nail in your coffin. The kid is great," said St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca. "He takes the tough shot, the good shot and the last shot."
"I just took it as it came," Griffin said. "There was no plan to go one on one or anything like that. I didn't force anything."
He didn't have to. His teammates stayed out of the middle and just let Griffith go to work.
St. John's didn't help its cause much by shooting 33 percent from the field. While Louisville was running off to its 14-point spurt, the Redmen were missing 12 straight shots and in one stretch missed 15 of 17.
"There was nothing unbelievable about the way you saw us shoot today," Carnesecca said. "Our shells were empty. That's a characteristic of this team. It shoots blanks. Usually we get away with it."
Johnson finished with 24 points, 20 rebounds and three steals.
He had only eight points at the half, primarily because Louisville's Larry Williams, playing man-to-man defense, forced Johnson into missing seven of the 10 shots he took.
Louisville got into foul trouble in the second half, though and had to go to zone defense. That left Johnson free to roam around and he would find the open spots and fire away.
In the second game, Notre Dame forced Houston into turning over the ball 11 times in its first 20 possessions. The Irish raced to a quick 30-13 lead and had a rollicking good time the rest of the way.
Houston's strength is the speed with which the Cougars like to use a fullcourt press. But Notre Dame had no trouble at all breaking it yesterday and the Irish consequently wound up with three-on-two or two-on-one advantages, usually cashing them in.
Bill Laimbeer controlled the game inside and led the Irish with 20 points and nine rebounds. Duck Williams added 19 points.
Notre Dame shot 58 percent, outrebounded Houston, 37-30, and basically outhustled and outmuscled the Cougars.
"This was the best we've played against a good team since we beat UCLA in December," Coach Digger Phelps said. "We played with poise and concentration."
Houston Coach Guy Lewis did not have many kind words for his team.
"It was very evident that we were never in the ball game," he said. "We played on emotion all year, but not today. We weren't ready to play. We didn't rebound well, we didn't shoot well, we didn't press well and we let Notre Dame play real physical, but they whipped us at it. I mean they totally whipped us, inside, outside.You name it.
"We just picked a terrible place to play our worst game of the year. The only good thing to come out of this is that if there were any recruits looking in, they know we need help."