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    Photo courtesy Louisville Cardinals Basketball Facebook Page
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    On Friday, March 14, 1980 at The Summit (which is now home to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church Central Campus) in Houston, the University of Louisville men’s basketball team met Texas A&M in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

    The Aggies had been No. 14 in the Associated Press preseason poll, but lost their first two games - to Iona and Lamar - and would never return to the rankings. Despite losing those first two, and two more of its first six games, A&M would win 19 of its next 22 to capture the Southwest Conference regular-season and postseason titles. The Aggies, who were given a No. 6 seed in the NCAAs, beat Bradley 55-53 in the first round in Denton, Texas, then knocked off third-seeded North Carolina 78-61 in double overtime (A&M outscored the Tar Heels 25-8 in the second extra session after the two teams went scoreless in the first OT) in the second round to set up a showdown with the Cardinals.

    UofL senior All-American Darrell Griffith came out red-hot, scoring his team’s first 10 points - with a dunk, a pull-up 17-footer from the right wing, a pull-up 18-footer from the right side, an 18-foot jumper from the left side and two free throws - as the Cards bolted out to a 12-2 lead. However the bigger Aggies chipped away at Louisville’s lead, cutting it to two by halftime.

    A&M took its first lead early in the second half. The Aggies led by as many as four, and had a several chances to increase that lead, but couldn’t extend it. The Cards came back to tie it, and had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Griffith’s off-balance 19-footer bounced off the rim and Rodney McCray’s fallaway follow shot was well short.

    UofL dominated the OT, outscoring the Aggies 13-2 thanks to six points from Griffith for a 66-55 win.

    Late in the extra session, with the outcome decided, Louisville coach Denny Crum instructed senior reserve guard Tony Branch, the hero of the team’s second-round win over Kansas State who had been perfect at the free throw line all season, to miss a foul shot. It was an act of superstition by Crum who had seen Terry Howard, another reserve guard who had been unblemished from the foul line, miss a key free throw late in Louisville’s loss to UCLA in the Final Four five years earlier.

    Griffith tallied a game-high 24 points, although after his hot start he finished just 9 for 24 from the field for Louisville, which won despite 39.7 percent (23 of 58) shooting.

    Sophomore center Wiley Brown added 15 points while fellow soph Derek Smith snared a game-high 10 rebounds and tallied a team-high five assists.

    Dave Britton led A&M with 16 points and seven assists, but he also had 10 turnovers.

    The victory propelled the second-seeded Cards into the Elite Eight, where they would face No. 1 seed Louisiana State.

    Remembering UofL's 1980 National Title Team, Part II

    Remembering UofL's 1980 National Title Team, Part I

    Photo courtesy Louisville Cardinals Basketball Facebook Page

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