Hancock named most outstanding player
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA — Much like in the national semifinals against Wichita State, Louisville faced a 12-point deficit in the national title game and needed an immediate spark.
Leave it to reserve Luke Hancock, the George Mason transfer who also provided a late-game scoring surge against the Shockers, to step forward to try to match Michigan’s unlikely offensive catalyst, Spike Albrecht, shot for shot.
With the backcourt tandem of Russ Smith and Peyton Siva struggling mightily shooting the ball in the first half, coach Rick Pitino had faith in Hancock because he considers the junior among the most clutch players on the team.
Hancock was named Most Outstanding Player after tying a career-high with 22 points as Louisville won 82-76.
He quickly changed the tenor of the game by making all four of his first-half three-point attempts in the final three minutes before halftime, all but erasing the double-digit deficit.
In seeing Hancock battle through shoulder injuries and from talking to former George Mason coach Jim Larranaga, Pitino has long known all about Hancock’s will to win. Though Hancock is a reserve, Pitino said he is one of the best offensive players on the team, a junior who exhibits such strong leadership that he was named captain before he even played a game.
Smith and Siva were virtually non-factors early as the Wolverines built a double-digit lead. But with 2:59 to play in the half, Hancock made his first three-pointer to give the Cardinals some life.
Then during a 45-second span, Hancock made two more, finding himself surprisingly open each time. With one minute left in the half, Hancock made his fourth three-pointer, slicing the deficit to one point. And 38 seconds later, the Cardinals were in front after Siva threw up an alley-oop pass to Montrezl Harrell for a dunk.
At halftime, Jalen Rose, a member of Michigan’s famed Fab Five, said, “All we need to do is find Hancock! Get a hand in his face.”
A moment of anxiety for Louisville fans occurred early in the second half, when Hancock picked up his third foul with 18:32 left in the game. But he managed to avoid … [For more on Louisville's Luke Hancock named most outstanding player, click here.]