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LOUISVILLE'S STARS FAIL TO SHINE FROM OUTSIDE

ST. LOUIS -- Louisville stars Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean aren't fans of dome ball.

Garcia and Dean shot a combined 6 for 25 in the Cardinals' 72-57 loss to Illinois in the national semifinals Saturday night.

They blamed their poor shooting on the Edward Jones Dome.

Dean said his shot "felt good, but they were short. Every one hit the front of the rim. That's my first time ever shooting in a dome, and getting used to the measurements it was just hard."

Garcia, Louisville's leading scorer, was 2 for 10 and finished with four points. He had been averaging 21 points in the NCAA Tournament.

Dean, who averages 14.5 points, scored 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting and was 2 for 9 from three-point range.

"I think the background made it hard for us to pick up the basket," Garcia said. "It made it look a lot closer than it was. The clear backboard made it tough on us."

The background is much improved over previous years after the local organizing committee installed a tighter seating configuration before the first and second rounds of the 2002 Midwest regional.

Just as troublesome for Garcia was the defensive job by Illinois' Deron Williams.

Williams had averaged 19 points in the last three tournament games but sacrificed scoring for the greater good, concentrating on Garcia. Williams scored just five points.

"I just wanted to do what I could to help my teammates win," Williams said. "I definitely wanted to come out and shut him down and show people I can be a shutdown defender."

Illinois coach Bruce Weber said the strategy that held Louisville to 38.9 percent shooting overall was simple.

"We just tried to contest each shot," Weber said. "And just hoped they missed."

The background didn't seem to bother Illinois. The Fighting Illini shot 12 for 30 from three-point range (40 percent), including 6 for 11 by Luther Head.

With his arms extended and palms facing the ceiling, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo looked into Alan Anderson's eyes.

Anderson had just been caught clutching Marvin Williams' arm in the lane.

"What are you doing?" Izzo screamed from the bench.

The foolish foul was just one of the puzzling moments Anderson had, picking the worst time to slip into a funk and have his worst game of the season.

Anderson was held scoreless -- 13.7 points below his average -- in North Carolina's 87-71 victory over the Spartans.

The senior forward missed all four of his shots, had four rebounds and no assists.

Anderson was a big reason Michigan State's senior class, often criticized for not living up t expectations, made it to the Final Four with wins over Duke and Kentucky. But his poor play also led to the end of the Spartans' season.

His coach and at least one teammate, Delco Rowley, tried to snap him out of his haze.

After screaming at Anderson in a heated confrontation during a timeout, Rowley tried to encourage him when he checked back in the game.

"Let's go!" Rowley hollered.

Despite an awful performance from one of their best players, the Spartans had a 38-33 lead over the Tar Heels at halftime.

The crowd was buzzing about a possible Big Ten matchup against Illinois in the championship game, but Michigan State wilted early in the second half and couldn't recover.

Michigan State (26-7) lost its lead for good a few minutes into the second half, trailed by double digits midway through it and never came close to mounting a comeback.

Anderson's career ended on a sour note, but Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown raved about his future earlier this week.

"He's going to play in this league," Brown said.

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