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    Photo courtesy of The Darrell Griffith Experience Facebook Page
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    On Sunday afternoon, March 16, 1980 the University of Louisville men’s basketball team met Louisiana State in the Midwest Regional final at The Summit in Houston.

    The Tigers were the last remaining No. 1 seed while the Cardinals were the last remaining No. 2 seed.

    LSU had been ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press preseason poll and remained in the Top 15 all season. Dale Brown’s Tigers, who lost three of their first four Southeastern Conference games, reeled off 14 consecutive league wins in a row before losing their finale to regular-season champ Kentucky. LSU got revenge in the SEC Tournament final, however, edging the Wildcats 80-78. That victory earned the Tigers the No. 1 seed in the Midwest.

    LSU, which like Louisville earned a first-round bye, ran past No. 8 seed Alcorn State, 98-88, in the second round behind 31 points from junior forward Durand “Rudy” Macklin, a Louisville native and a graduate of Shawnee High School.

    The Tigers then rallied from a one-point halftime deficit to defeat Big 8 regular-season champ Missouri 68-63 in the region semis.

    With 20th-ranked Purdue and unranked UCLA and Iowa having already earned spots in the Final Four the winner between LSU and Louisville would be the favorite in Indianapolis.

    UofL jumped out to a 10-2 lead before the Bayou Bengals fought back as Cards All-American Darrell Griffith got in early foul trouble. LSU answered with an 18-2 run - much of which came with Griff on the bench with three fouls - to go up 29-21, prompting Cards coach Denny Crum to put his star guard back in the game. With Griffith back in the game UofL closed the first half with an 10-0 run, capped off by Roger Burkman’s tough jumper with 2 seconds left. Louisville led 31-29 at intermission despite only four points from Griffith.

    The Cards carried over the momentum from that run into the second half as they outscored the Tigers, who had some in-fighting in the locker room at intermission, 55-37 on their way to an 86-66 victory. 

    Despite his slow start Griffith finished with a great game - 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. But, he wasn’t the only one. Sophomore center Wiley Brown contributed 16 points while sophomore forward Derek Smith (13 points, 10 rebounds) and freshman Rodney McCray (12 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles. Sophomore guard Jerry Eaves added nine points.

    LSU, which had four players foul out, also had four players in double figures. Macklin, however, finished with just nine points on 4 of 7 shooting.

    With the win the ‘Ville was going to the ‘Nap for the Final Four, just as sophomore Poncho Wright had predicted in the preseason.  

    Remembering UofL's 1980 National Title Team, Part III

    Remembering UofL's 1980 National Title Team, Part II

    Remember UofL's 1980 National Title Team, Part I

    Photo courtesy of The Darrell Griffith Experience Facebook Page

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