Senior all-American Darrell Griffith scored six overtime points to lead Louisville to a 66-55 decision over Texas A&M in the NCAA Midwest Regional tonight.
In the second game, junior forwards DeWayne Scales and Draund Macklin combined for 33 points to carry third-ranked Louisiana State to a 68-63 victory over Missouri.
LSU used a slowdown game in the second half to victimize Missouri of the Big 8 Conference.
Leading only 52-50 with 13:28 to go. LSU Coach Dale Brown ordered the Rengal Tigers into a four-corner [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] that immediately produced[WORDS ILLEGIVLE] Macklin shook free for a [WORDS ILLEGIVLE] play. Scales did the same [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] next time downcourt, hit- [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] front end of a one-on-one free-throw situation to put USU a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] 58-52.
Louisville tended to rely strictly on Griffith for its scoring and the club rose and fell on his ability to hit an assortment of outside shots and drives through the lane. The concensus all-American, named by many as the country's player of the year, finished with 24 points as Louisville advanced into Sunday's regional final.
Despite scoring only six points in the final 11:40 of regulation, the Aggies sent the game into overtime by holding Louisville's offense, principally Griffith, to virtually zero production. Griffith had only four points in the second half, missing a shot near the buzzer on a turnaround jumper from 15 feet that would have won it.
David Britton was A&M's exclusive scorer in the final 11:40 of the game, getting all six points, including a 20-footed with two minutes to play that brought the game to 53-53. Louisville then exchanged passsed and settled for the last shot. It was the third straight game that the Aggies had been tied at 53 with less than 20 seconds to play in regulation time.
The Aggies had worked themselves back into the contest by outscoring the Cardinals, 18-4, during a nine-minute stretch that overlapped the first and second periods. Down, 33-23, A&M tightened its man-to-man defense to crawl into a 41-37 lead with 15:20 to play. Louisville then ran off six straight points, but then went almost six minutes without scoring again.
Rudy Woods, A&M's 6-foot-11 center, erupted from his first-half doldrums after the intermission. Woods, averaging 11 points per game over the season, scored none in the first half but came out a different man and had eight quick points to spur the Aggies.
Still, it took missed free throws by Louisville to cause the overtime, as the Cards blew two of three in the final 3:30, any of which would have wrapped up the game.
Louisville managed to stay alive in the NCAA tournament despite getting caught up playing A&M's game. The Aggies, sixth in the nation this season in defense with 59.4 points allowed, let the Cardinals get away from them in the early going before slamming the door.
Louisville's speed caught the Aggies by surprise in the game's opening minutes, as the Cards sped to a 12-2 lead behind Griffith's 10 quick points. But after the Aggies were able to adjust to the pace of the game, they kept Griffith from controlling the tempo.
A&M fought back to trail by four, 22-18, after 11 minutes of the first half as Vernon Smith scored eight points and Griffith took a short breather. Simulaneous with Griffith's return, Lousiville reclaimed a more comfortable buffer of 26-18 and then 33-23 before the Aggies put on their 18-4 surge.
Louisville, now 30-3, also received scoring support from Wiley Brown with 15 points and Jerry Eaves with eight. Derek Smith led the rebounders with 10 as the Cards won the battle with the A&M's notorious front court by a 39-35 margin. Britton's 16 points led A&M, who ended at 26-7. Smith added 12 and Rynn Wright 11, with Woods leading the rebounders with nine.
Sharp-shooting Larry Drew kept Missouri in the game against, LSU, scoring eight straight points in one stretch of the second half and finishing the night with 16.
Mark Dressler had a game-high 20 points for Missouri.
Scales scored 17 and Macklin added 16 for LSU, which ran its record to 25-5.
Missouri, which led at halftime 40-39, completed its season at 25-6.
Missouri players in double figures other than Drew and Dressler included Ricky Frazier with 12 and Steve Stipanovich with 10.