Sunday, February 2, 2003

No. 8 Louisville 95, No. 19 Indiana 76

Cardinals' comeback routs Hoosiers, extends win streak to 15

The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

Louisville's Francisco Garcia shows his joy during the closing moments.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Indiana University may be the No. 1-ranked party school in the nation, but during the second half of Saturday's 95-76 victory over the Hoosiers, the University of Louisville basketball team brought Animal House to a school-record crowd of 20,086 in Freedom Hall.

Like six other Cardinals opponents, the No. 19 Hoosiers stormed to a double-digit lead - they led by 16 with five minutes left in the first half. But as the No. 8 Cards have done all season, they got their party going fashionably late, lampooning the Hoosiers 60-33 in the second half to hand IU coach Mike Davis the most lopsided non-Big Ten Conference loss of his coaching career.

The Cards scored the game's final 17 points and held IU (14-6) without a field goal for the final 7:55 to run their winning streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the nation. At 16-1, they are off to their best start since 1974-75.

"We flat-out got after it in the second half," coach Rick Pitino said. "I'm really proud of these guys. Their desire to win is tremendous."

He yielded some the time from his customary videotaped pregame pep talk a for a film clip of John Belushi's famous speech from the comedy film "Animal House:"

"Nothing's over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! ... Cause when the goin' gets tough - the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go! Come on!"

U of L played the clip before the game and again at halftime with the Cards losing by eight points, and each time it whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

In the second half, U of L brought the frenzy to the court.

The Cards' first broadcast network television game of the season was pre-empted because of CBS News coverage of the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. Basketball fans who were would-be TV viewers missed a highlight-reel performance in the second half.

"You can watch them on TV and on tape, but until you see them in person, you don't know what you are up against," Davis said.

Many of the made-for-TV moments came from freshman Francisco Garcia, who staged a breakout game with a career-high 23 points.

His steal off the press and slam-dunk gave the Cards their first lead of the second half at 52-51 with 13:47 left. With IU back up 64-60 and looking to add to it, he blocked a shot, then took a pass on the right wing from Ellis Myles on the other end and dished it right back on a perfect give-and-go that resulted in a three-point play.

After Tom Coverdale gave IU the lead back with a last-gasp three-pointer with 7:55 left, Garcia again drove the lane, adjusted an underhand scoop shot in midair and converted the layup while being fouled by Kyle Hornsby. He made the free throw to tie the score.

From that point the Cards put IU's offense on double-secret probation. The Hoosiers did not make another basket as U of L outscored them 25-6 the rest of the way.

"We know that at some point the surge is coming," Garcia said. "At some point in the game, we're going to get that run, where everything feels like it's going our way. That's why you play the game, for times like that."

That's why Kendall Dartez was playing. He scored the Cards next four points on put-backs, the first on a lay-in and the second on a rebound slam after crashing the boards from the free-throw line.

IU had cut the Cards' lead to 74-73 when Dartez didn't hesitate to pull the trigger from one step inside the three-point line on the right wing, draining the jumper to put U of L up by three.

U of L led 78-76 when it got the dagger it needed from an unlikely source. Freshman Taquan Dean had missed six shots when Reece Gaines drove and passed to him on the right wing. Dean's three-point attempt found the mark, putting U of L up 81-76 with 3:17 left.

A scramble for a ball going out of bounds between Dean and IU's Bracey Wright wound up with a call in U of L's favor, and Garcia buried a three from the left wing to build the closing momentum.

Dean then stole the ball on IU's next possession, and driving with a three-on-two break, pulled up for a three-pointer, and the Cards' lead was 87-76 with 2:13 left.

"That tells you something about him," Gaines said. "He had been missing them all day, but he has the confidence to pull up and bury that one. That shows a lot of character."

Davis argued with officials that Dean's foot had been on the line, making it a two-pointer, but in the end, it didn't matter. U of L reeled off eight more points before the final horn.

"Our second-half rebounding and defense was unbelievable," Pitino said. "We were getting our butts kicked in the first half. But we had 19 second shots in the second half, and we had six turnovers in the first and ended up only with nine. It was an awesome performance in the second half."

IU breezed in the first half. After missing their first four shots, the Hoosiers made nine of their next 11, including a pair of putbacks and several easy layups. The Cards countered with Marvin Stone and Myles scoring inside. The Hoosiers had big men George Leach and Jeff Newton, along with Wright, on the bench for the final 10 minutes of the half, each with two fouls.

Still, U of L couldn't capitalize. Because his starters had been sitting, Davis said he thought they'd be fresh in the second half. But they appeared to hit the same problem with fatigue that other teams have against Pitino's deep squad.

Coverdale took only four shots in the second half, and the Hoosiers wound up with 20 turnovers.

"When Coverdale got tired, he didn't want the ball as much," Gaines said. "When a team's leader doesn't want the ball, you can tell they're getting exhausted - especially a great player like Coverdale."

After struggling in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting with a pair of turnovers, Gaines made 4 of 9 in the second half to finish with 17 points and got five of his six assists in the second half.

Davis said the Hoosiers didn't give in to fatigue as much as they got caught up in U of L's style as they lost their third straight game and dropped to 1-5 on the road.

"It's not conditioning," he said. "They make you play their style of basketball. They are in great shape, but so are we. Who's going to win that style of game? They are."

IU did not claim a single offensive rebound in the second half. After outrebounding the Cards 22-15 in the first half, the Hoosiers were outrebounded 24-11 in the second. Coverdale led five IU players in double figures with 14 points. Newton and Leach had 12 each and Kyle Hornsby had 11. Wright, in his second game back from a back injury, scored 10.

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