1:00 PM ET, February 1, 2003
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The Louisville Cardinals are developing a pattern -- fall behind in the first half, then come back in the second half to win.They did it for the sixth time this season against (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) Indiana on Saturday. Freshman Francisco Garcia scored a career-high 23 points and Reece Gaines added 17 as eighth-ranked Louisville beat the Hoosiers 95-76 to win its 15th straight game. The Cardinals (16-1) trailed by as many as 16 in the first half. They've trailed by double digits in the first half of seven games this season, and have come back to win six of them. "We flat out got after it in the second half,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. Louisville hasn't won 15 games in a row since the 1985-86 season, when it won its final 17 games on its way to the NCAA championship. "I'm really proud of these guys,'' Pitino said. "Our desire to win is tremendous.'' The Cardinals outscored Indiana 60-33 in the second half, holding the Hoosiers without a field goal for the final 7:55. The Hoosiers finished with 20 turnovers. "We panicked in the second half,'' said Tom Coverdale, who led Indiana with 14. "A lot of times, we brought it across halfcourt and never got into anything.'' The Hoosiers led by eight at halftime, but Louisville took a brief one-point lead early in the second half. Indiana retook the lead, but a three-point play by Garcia tied the game at 70 with 7:42 left. The Cardinals led 78-76 when freshman Taquan Dean -- 0-for-6 from the floor to that point -- swished a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:22 left to start a game-ending 17-0 run. "Coach told us that in the first half, we weren't hungry enough,'' Garcia said. "We were talking amongst ourselves, saying we can't let them come in here and play that way and beat us.'' George Leach and Jeff Newton scored 12 points each for the Hoosiers (14-6), who have lost three in a row and six of their last seven road games. After Dean's 3-pointer, Indiana freshman Bracey Wright lost the ball amid a triple-team in the backcourt and Garcia sank a 3-pointer with 2:36 remaining. Dean ripped the ball away from Coverdale on Indiana's next possession, Gaines got the ball and then found Dean for a 3-pointer from the wing with 2:18 to go. The game's outcome decided, Garcia dunked with 1:04 left and let out a yell in front of the euphoric Louisville bench. "When things are going like they were in the second half, it feels great,'' Garcia said. "It feels like everything is going right.'' Louisville has worn down several teams this season with its full-court pressure, but Indiana coach Mike Davis didn't use poor conditioning as an excuse for the loss. "They make you play their style of basketball,'' Davis said. "They are in a great shape, but so are we. But who's going to win that up-and-down kind of a game? They are.'' The game drew a crowd of 20,086, a record for a Louisville home game. The Cardinals missed eight of their first 11 shots and the Hoosiers rode an 18-4 run to a 23-10 lead. The Hoosiers, who hadn't shot better than 41 percent in their last four games, sank 10 of their first 15 shots and outrebounded Louisville 12-7 in the first 10 minutes. "We let our lack of offensive proficiency affect our defense in the first half,'' Pitino said. The Cardinals turned up their defense to close the gap. They finished the half with an 11-3 spurt, holding Indiana without a field goal for the final 5:52. Louisville, the top 3-point shooting team in Conference USA, missed 10 of its 11 3-point shots in the first half, but went 16-of-20 from the free-throw line. Gaines, held to seven first-half points, sank a 3-pointer 1:11 into the second half to cut Indiana's lead to five and start a 13-5 Louisville run. Ellis Myles' free throw with 12:08 left cut Indiana's lead to 55-54. He missed the second free throw, but Kendall Dartez rebounded and found Garcia, who calmly swished a 3-pointer to put Louisville up by one, its first lead since the opening minutes. The basket brought the capacity crowd to its feet, but Coverdale sank a 3-pointer at the other end to put the Hoosiers back on top. Neither team led by more than five before Louisville's game-ending burst. "They are very good, very aggressive,'' Davis said. "You watch them on tape and until you're right there in the fire with them, you don't know how demanding it is.''
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