Thursday, January 23, 2003

No. 9 Louisville 71, DePaul 43

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville Cardinals showed they can handle the rough play inside, especially after some tough words from coach Rick Pitino.

"They were bumping us, pushing in the first half," backup center Kendall Dartez said. "Coach told us this is a man's game. We came out and just blocked out and defended. We were just playing hard defense."

Showing their trademark defensive intensity, the ninth-ranked Cardinals held DePaul to 34 percent shooting in a 71-43 victory Wednesday night. It was the 10th straight game in which Louisville held its opponent to less than 40 percent.

Pitino said he liked his team's blue-collar effort, which forced 17 turnovers that the Cardinals converted into 19 points. Louisville also had eight blocks, led by forward Francisco Garcia with four.

"DePaul is a tough, hard-nosed basketball team," Pitino said. "We just had more depth than they did. Our defense is as hard-working as any team I've coached. We just get after it, get after it, get after it."

Reece Gaines scored 14 points to lead a balanced attack as the Cardinals (13-1, 5-0 Conference USA) won their 12th straight. It was Louisville's 13th straight win over DePaul (10-5, 2-2).

The Cardinals struggled early on offense but pulled away by shooting 61.5 percent in the second half.

It turned into a battle of attrition, and Louisville clearly had the advantage. Pitino substituted frequently, and his reserves contributed 25 points and kept up the defensive intensity.

"They come at you in waves offensively and defensively," DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.

Andre Brown led DePaul with 16 points and 14 rebounds. The Blue Demons' top scorer, center Sam Hoskin, was held scoreless.

Garcia and Erik Brown each scored 10 points for the Cardinals, while Taquan Dean and Bryant Northern each had nine.

Louisville went on a 13-4 run to start the second half and take a double-digit lead it never relinquished. The Cardinals got 3-pointers from Brown, Dean and Northern during the spurt.

Andre Brown made a layup to cut the lead to 54-35, but the Cardinals answered with nine straight points, capped by Garcia's layup after a steal.

"It was real physical, a war in there," Louisville center Marvin Stone said. "But they got kind of tired. Our bench has been playing well."

DePaul came in with the conference's top defense against the 3-point shot, but the Cardinals outscored the Blue Demons 36-3 from 3-point range.

Louisville hit 12-of-29, while DePaul had only one 3-pointer in nine attempts. The Blue Demons often struggled to get a shot off against the Cardinals' defense.

"We had our intention to slow down their rhythm a little bit," Leitao said. "At different points in the first half, I think we were successful. But as I told our guys, if you play a team of that magnitude, you can't afford to make any mental or physical errors."

Louisville missed six of its first seven shots, but the Blue Demons could muster only a 4-0 lead. Louisville's freshman duo of Dean and Garcia both hit two 3-pointers to score the Cardinals' first 12 points.

After Stone hit a short hook shot to tie it at 15 with 8:04 left in the first half, the Cardinals went on a 16-8 run to lead 31-23 at halftime, matching their biggest lead of the half. Gaines hit 3-pointers to start and finish the spurt - his only points of the half.

"Obviously, we played tonight one of the very best basketball teams out there," Leitao said. "If you enjoy basketball, you have to enjoy the way they play."

DEPAUL (10-5)-Brown 7-11 2-3 16, Greer 3-12 2-4 8, Hoskin 0-5 0-1 0, Seals 0-3 0-0 0, Diener 1-5 2-3 4, London 1-2 0-0 2, Brooks 0-1 0-0 0, Holland 3-9 2-2 8, Tulley 2-2 0-1 5, Exilus 0-0 0-0 0, Brumfield 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-50 8-14 43.

LOUISVILLE (13-1)-Myles 2-2 1-2 5, Brown 4-8 0-0 10, Stone 3-5 2-4 8, Dean 4-9 0-0 9, Gaines 5-10 0-1 14, Dartez 2-5 0-0 4, Northern 3-5 0-0 9, Naydenov 0-1 0-0 0, Whitehead 0-3 0-0 0, Garcia 4-8 0-0 10, O'Bannon 0-1 0-0 0, George 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-58 3-7 71.

Halftime-Louisville 31-23. 3-Point goals-DePaul 1-9 (Tulley 1-1, Hoskin 0-1, Seals 0-1, Greer 0-2, Diener 0-2, Holland 0-2), Louisville 12-29 (Gaines 4-8, Northern 3-4, Brown 2-4, Garcia 2-6, Dean 1-5, Naydenov 0-1, O'Bannon 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-DePaul 36 (Brown 14), Louisville 33 (Stone, Dartez 6). Assists-DePaul 8 (Holland 3), Louisville 17 (Brown, Dean 4). Total fouls-DePaul 13, Louisville 17. A-19,219.

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