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Archive for Sunday, December 28, 2003

Louisville stuns Kentucky

Cards halt Wildcats’ regular-season streak, 65-56

December 28, 2003

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— Kentucky's yearlong regular-season winning streak is over and Louisville has started a streak of its own against the Wildcats.

No. 20 Louisville limited No. 2 Kentucky to one field goal over the final 5:47 in a 65-56 victory Saturday, snapping the Wildcats' 27-game regular-season winning streak.

Otis George had 13 points and eight rebounds for Louisville (7-1), which won at Rupp Arena for the first time since 1997-98, a season in which Kentucky won the NCAA title. The Cardinals have won seven straight since a season-opening loss to Iowa.

Kentucky (7-1) had not lost a regular-season game since last Dec. 28, when the Wildcats fell, 81-63, at Louisville.

"Kentucky is a great basketball team that just happened to lose tonight," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We were very fortunate to win.

"We had that special moment that happens once in a lifetime."

Pitino is 2-1 against Kentucky, a team he coached for eight seasons and guided to the 1996 national title. After the game, Pitino and Kentucky coach Tubby Smith -- one of Pitino's former assistants -- hugged at midcourt.

"This is just a great feeling," Louisville's Luke Whitehead said. "Coach Pitino already told us how much this game means to him. He said it meant a lot to us, him and the city and it just makes us so happy."

The Cardinals are 20-1 in December under Pitino the last three seasons, with the only loss coming to Kentucky.

Louisville's Francisco Garcia, right, blocks a shot by Kentucky's
Chuck Hayes. Louisville defeated Kentucky, 65-56, Saturday in
Lexington, Ky.

Louisville's Francisco Garcia, right, blocks a shot by Kentucky's Chuck Hayes. Louisville defeated Kentucky, 65-56, Saturday in Lexington, Ky.

Larry O'Bannon and Whitehead each added 11 points and leading scorer Francisco Garcia had all of his 10 points in the second half for Louisville, which went 15-of-16 from the free throw line.

Louisville, which trailed by five points at halftime, shot 54.2 percent from the field in the second half. Kentucky shot 33.3 percent after halftime and 33.9 percent for the game, after making nine of its first 18 shots.

Louisville players attributed that change in fortune to strong defense and rebounding. The Cardinals outrebounded Kentucky, 38-30.

"We knew coming into the game that we would have to rebound and limit their running game," Louisville's Taquan Dean said. "We won this game by limiting their fast breaks and offensive rebounding. Otis showed how aggressive he is. He really played great. He'd dive on concrete for a basketball if he had to."

Kentucky led 49-46 after a basket by Erik Daniels with 5:47 left, and two free throws by Kelenna Azubuike with 4:12 left gave the Wildcats their last lead, 51-50.

Louisville's Kendall Dartez scored 10 seconds later, and Dean followed with a three-pointer before George hit two free throws to give Louisville a 57-51 lead.

A four-point play by Gerald Fitch pulled Kentucky within two, but Garcia made a three-pointer with Azubuike in his face to put the Cardinals ahead, 60-55. Kentucky missed three three-point attempts in the final minute.

Azubuike and Cliff Hawkins each had 12 points for Kentucky. Fitch, who entered the game averaging a team-high 19.1 points, did not score in the first half and finished with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.

"I'm disappointed in our play," Smith said. "We seemed to once again not play with the poise and the patience that we needed to."

No. 10 Saint Joseph's 73, Pacific 55

Philadelphia -- Delonte West scored 22 points and Jameer Nelson added 15 as Saint Joseph's defeated Pacific. The Hawks (9-0) are off to their best start since they won their first 10 games in 1964-65. The Hawks won their first seven games last season before being defeated by Pacific.

The Tigers (4-6) almost did it again this year, trailing by five points midway through the second half despite a sloppy game in which they committed 18 turnovers, preventing them from making a serious run.

Nelson shook off a slow start in the second half, hitting two straight three-pointers before dishing an assist to Dwayne Lee for another three and a 62-49 lead.

No. 13 Florida 109, Eastern Kentucky 63

Gainesville, Fla. -- Anthony Roberson scored 22 points and Florida breezed through a victory over Eastern Kentucky. The Gators (8-2) shot 64.6 percent (42-for-65) to finish above 60 percent for the third time this season.

It was the kind of confidence builder Florida might need before things get more difficult, beginning next Saturday against Florida State (10-1) and continuing Jan. 7, when the Southeastern Conference schedule begins against South Carolina. Typical on a night in which everything seemed to fall, freshman Lee Humphrey made his first three three-pointers and went 3-for-4 for 11 points.

No. 14 Cincinnati 83, Miami, Ohio 63

Cincinnati -- James White and Field Williams each scored 14 points and Cincinnati extended its best start in four years by beating Miami of Ohio. Cincinnati (8-0) pulled out to a 20-point lead in the first half, but couldn't shake the RedHawks (4-5) until midway through the second half.

The game was played at a downtown arena that's about a 15-minute drive from Cincinnati's campus. Most of the crowd of 14,873 consisted of Cincinnati fans, who found little to cheer in an uneven and uninspired performance by the Bearcats. Tony Bobbitt added 11 points and Jason Maxiell had 10 for Cincinnati.

No. 16 Pittsburgh 52, New Hampshire 38

Pittsburgh -- Julius Page picked up the slack for injured guard Carl Krauser by scoring 19 points and Pittsburgh matched the best start in school history with a victory over New Hampshire.

Krauser, Pitt's leading scorer with a 15.6-point average, did not play because of a groin injury.

Page, held to a total of 15 points in Pitt's previous two wins, made five three-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half as Pitt took a 28-13 lead. He came into the game averaging 12.9 points, second to Krauser.

Chris Taft had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers (12-0), who matched the 1929-30 team for the best start in school history.

Pitt has won 32 consecutive home games, the longest active streak in Division I, and is 26-0 at the Petersen Events Center.

No. 19 Wisconsin 71,

Ohio 48

Cleveland -- Alando Tucker scored a season-high 22 points and Zach Morley had a career-high 14 and Wisconsin wore down Ohio University. Tucker, who missed Wisconsin's first five games while recovering from a broken right foot, had another strong game in just his second start this season for the Badgers (8-1).

The 6-foot-5 sophomore went 8-for-13 from the field and added six rebounds as Wisconsin dominated underneath while tuning up for a game Tuesday at Alabama.

Tucker hobbled off favoring his right foot in the final minute, but by then Wisconsin was up by 23 points and coasted to its fifth straight win. Tucker broke his foot during a conditioning run up a hill in October and had surgery.

After being used off the bench for two games, Tucker made his first start since Dec. 20 at Marquette and had 17 points in 31 minutes.

Devin Harris added 14 points for the Badgers, who made eight three-pointers.

No. 22 Purdue 82, Evansville 62

West Lafayette, Ind. -- Kenneth Lowe scored 17 points to lead five Purdue players in double figures and the Boilermakers beat Evansville.

Matt Kiefer had 14 points, and reserve Brett Buscher added 12 for Purdue (9-2), which bounced back from a disappointing one-point loss to Southern Methodist last Sunday.

Kyle Anslinger led Evansville (1-7) with 16 points, including going 4-of-5 from three-point range. The Purple Aces shot 41.7 percent on threes in the first half and came within 39-35 on Lucious Wagner's running three at the halftime buzzer.

Purdue went on a 19-3 run over a 3:30 span in the second half to ensure their fourth straight win over Evansville at Mackey Arena.

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