ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Louisville worked its way back Saturday,
refusing to panic or wilt when the Cardinals (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) found
themselves trailing scappy DePaul by 17 points in the first half.
"Everybody just stayed positive. We're going to make our run
just as well as they did," Cardinals guard Chris Smith said.
"Then we just started hitting shots and started getting the
flow going and it was just whole totally different game."
The Cardinals, down 10 at the half, survived DePaul's raging
start and with Russ Smith hitting key back-to-back baskets in
overtime, rallied for a 90-82 victory at the noisy Allstate Arena
where they were backed by a large contingent of red-clad Louisville
"It was a real Big East game today, bumps and bruises, you need
ice packs when you get back, I will probably need to get in the
cold tub, but today was a hard fought win," Chris Smith said.
"Today, I felt we earned this one."
Kyle Kuric scored 25 points, Chris Smith added 20 and Russ Smith
16 to lead the Cardinals (21-6, 9-5 Big East).
Kuric had 17 of his points in the second half and was 9 for 17
from the field. He made five 3-pointers.
"Kyle has to give that type of effort because he didn't give it
in the first half, that effort. In the second half he was all over
the place and gave great effort," Louisville coach Rick Pitino
said after using a smaller lineup in the second half to get his
"We started running plays for Chris, Kyle, and Russ. As well as
we do that we're not going to run the pick and roll as well, but
we're going to get some good things out of a couple of sets that we
put in and we did."
DePaul (11-15, 2-12) has now lost 36 straight games to ranked
opponents. The Blue Demons have lost 11 of their last 12 but this
was a game they appeared ready to win, building a big first-half
"The bad is that we didn't get the job done and we took a few
defensive possessions off in the meat of the game, including
blockout situations on long rebounds that cost us," DePaul coach
Oliver Purnell said.
"The good, of course, is that we played at a much higher level.
... We put ourselves in position to win and played our style of
basketball. We were aggressive. We take that style of play and
level of play into the next game and down the stretch and we are
going to win some games. "
He'd also like to see something else:
"I just feel like we're not getting. ... Our guys deserve
respect from the officials, too," he said. "They really do."
After losing their big lead, the Blue Demons tied the game at 77
when Charles McKinney hit a basket with 2.2 seconds left in
regulation, forcing overtime.
With the game tied at 79 in overtime, Russ Smith hit
back-to-back baskets from in-close. Peyton Siva added two free
throws and Chris Smith had a layup and three free throws to seal
the win. The Cardinals outscored the Blue Demons 13-5 in overtime.
In regulation, Chris Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and
scored with 1:15 to go, giving Louisville the lead at 74-72. And
after a DePaul turnover, Kuric drove for a score and a four-point
Donnavan Kirk then hit a 3-pointer -- his second of the season --
to bring the Blue Demons within one with 36 seconds left. After
Louisville made one free throw, McKinney hit a shot from in close
with 2.2 seconds to go.
DePaul shot 54.8 percent in the first half, swarmed the court
with scrappy defense, had separate runs of 16-0 and 16-2 and took a
42-32 halftime lead.
The teams warmed up in the dark for several minutes when the
lights at the Allstate Arena, dimmed for a pre-game video, didn't
come back on quickly enough.
After Louisville got the first four points, the Blue Demons
reeled off 16 straight as Jeremiah Kelly capped the frantic
outburst with a 3-pointer, making it 16-4.
Louisville, which shot 37.5 percent in opening half, then ran
off nine straight points and had the ball trailing by eight in the
closing seconds. But DePaul's Worrel Clahar hit two free throws
with less than a second to go after Louisville was whistled for a
foul under its own basket, a call that coach Rick Pitino discussed
with an official on the floor after the teams had headed to the
Louisville has now beaten DePaul nine straight times.
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