Louisville forward Billy Thompson is obviously fond of understatement.
After scoring a game-high 24 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and blocking 3 shots Thursday at Ogden, Utah, Thompson said he had played one of his better games this season.
Good enough, in fact, to lead the Cardinals to a 93-73 NCAA West Regional victory over Drexel and advanced Louisville to Saturday's second-round game against Bradley, which beat Texas El Paso, 83-65. In the other game Saturday, North Carolina, a 84-72 winner over Utah, faces Alabama Birmingham, which beat Missouri, 66-64.
But the Cardinals' 6-foot 7-inch senior said Louisville will have to improve to beat the Braves. "We definitely have to play harder than we did," he said.
Cardinal Coach Denny Crum agreed, saying his seventh-ranked squad paid the Dragons little respect early in the game. Louisville had to pull away from a tie, 42-42, late in the first half to gain a 48-42 lead by halftime.
"We didn't play our best game by far," Crum said of his Metro Conference champions, who have won 11 of their last 12.
Crum said the Cardinals played lackluster defense. "I know we can play better and I hope we do," he said.
Second-seeded Louisville improved its mark to 27-7. Drexel, the East Coast Conference champion and the West's 15th seeded team, ended the season at 19-12.
Bradley 83, Texas El Paso 65--Jim Les scored 22 points and Hersey Hawkins had 21 as No. 14 Bradley ran away from No. 20 Texas El Paso in their first-round game at Ogden, Utah.
Hawkins scored six of Bradley's first eight points in the second half as the Braves opened up a 39-37 halftime lead and led by as many as 20 in the second half.
UTEP's Dave Feitl led all scorers with 27.
UTEP, the Western Athletic Conference champion, finished at 27-6, while Bradley, the regular-season Missouri Valley Conference champion, improved to 32-2.
Alabama Birmingham 66, Missouri 64--Guard Steven Mitchell scored 21 points and forward Jerome Mincy added 14 as the Blazers held off the Tigers in a see-saw game at Ogden, Utah.
Alabama Birmingham improved to 25-10, while Missouri, which was led by Derrick Chievous with 21 points and Jeff Strong with 19, finished the season 21-14.
North Carolina 84, Utah 72--Brad Daugherty scored 27 points on 12-for-14 shooting and the Tar Heels (27-5) advanced to the second round with the win over the Utes (20-10).
North Carolina took control with 8:18 left when Utah freshman center Mitch Smith fouled out and the score 61-61.
Warren Martin sank both free throws after being fouled by Smith, and the Tar Heels never trailed again, outscoring the Utes, 23-11, the rest of the way.