Sunday, January 13, 2002

Louisville 93, TCU 85




By CHRIS DUNCAN
AP Sports Writer

[img]
Louisville's Larry O'Bannon, left, releases the ball as he is fouled by Texas Christian defender Jamal Brown.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Reece Gaines got tired fast Saturday, taking over Louisville's point guard duties because of Carlos Hurt's back injury.

        But when it came time to take over the game, Gaines was ready.

        Louisville's junior captain scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half and keyed the decisive run with nine straight points in the Cardinals' 93-85 win over TCU.

        “My job is to make plays and make sure we win,” said Gaines, who went 8-of-14 from the floor in the second half.

        Gaines saw action at point guard during each of his first two seasons, and Louisville coach Rick Pitino decided he was his best option to replace Hurt, who could be lost for the season because of a bulging disc.

        Gaines didn't have a turnover in the opening half, but scored only four points.

        “Right away, you could see he was gasping for air in the first two or three minutes,” Pitino said. “If it had been a slower game, Reece would've been fine. He just got exhausted. When you don't run the point, it's tough to do that.”

        Alhaji Mohammed and Bryant Northern also saw minutes at point guard, and Pitino said he probably wouldn't use Gaines there again until the late stages of games.

        That's when Gaines was at his best on Saturday.

        The Horned Frogs (10-7, 0-3 Conference USA) stormed back from an 11-point deficit to pull within 74-72 with 7:10 left.

        Gaines then dunked, sank a 3-pointer, scored on a drive and had a rebound putback over the next three minutes to restore Louisville's double-digit lead. TCU got no closer than six the rest of the way.

        “Everybody was just passing. We played as a team and I got open,” said Gaines, who topped 20 points for the eighth time this season.

        Luke Whitehead added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Erik Brown scored 13 for Louisville (11-3, 2-1 Conference USA), which won for the 32nd straight time when it reached 80 points.

        Junior Blount scored 28 and Corey Santee added 20 for TCU (10-7, 0-3), playing its first season in Conference USA.

        “This has been a hard takeoff in Conference USA, but maybe we're going to meet someone down the line that's supposed to be on the bottom of the conference,” said TCU coach Billy Tubbs. “We're getting a rude indoctrination.”

        Whitehead had 10 points and 11 rebounds in the first half to help the Cardinals to a 48-44 halftime lead.

        Louisville led 36-31 when Brown started a 10-0 run with a 3-pointer 4:48 before halftime.

        The Horned Frogs answered with a 20-2 run bridging the first and second halves. Blount scored six points during the spurt, and gave TCU a 51-48 lead with a wing jumper with 17:45 left in the game.

        Gaines' 3-pointer from the wing tied the game and snapped a five-minute Louisville scoring drought.

        The Cardinals outrebounded TCU 58-51, but Pitino said his team still needs work in that area.

        “We're still laboring with blocking out,” Pitino said. “We don't have good habits. We don't lay our rear ends on people. We arm-block out.”

        Former Kentucky forward/center Marvin Stone, who joined the Louisville squad after a meeting with Coach Rick Pitino on Saturday, watched the game from the Cardinals' bench.

        The game marked the second meeting between Pitino and Tubbs, who have a combined 951 victories. Pitino's Kentucky team beat Tubbs' TCU squad 124-80 in 1996.

        “Billy's been a great guy for the game,” Pitino said. “He's an ambassador for offensive basketball, for making it fun for the kids, and for having a good time himself. When he looks back, not only is he going to have a lot of wins, he'll look back and say, 'I had a hell of a time as well.”'

       



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