"It was a much needed win for us," said U of L head coach Rick Pitino. "We could not give UAB a two game advantage in the league. We had to get a win right now."
Less than four minutes into the game Louisville's super sophomore's Francisco Garcia entered the game within seconds of each other, with Garcia showing little effects of the injured ankle that forced him to miss the Memphis game. Garcia connected on his first two shot attempts including a three-pointer that gave Louisville a 13-9 advantage.
"I think we are over the hump with Taquan," Pitino explained afterwards.
UAB, who entered the contest atop the Conference USA race, grabbed their first lead of the game at 18-15 following a 6-0 run. The Cardinals however responded with an 11-2 run, with Kendall Dartez contributing six points during the spurt, to reclaim the lead at 26-20 with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
After the teams traded baskets over the next two minutes and with the Cardinals holding a 36-32 lead, both teams went cold from the field and failed to score from the field or from the charity stripe for the next four minutes. Luke Whitehead's follow at the 1:55 mark ended the drought and pushed Louisville ahead 38-32.
A layup by freshman Perrin Johnson helped the Cardinals equal their largest at the half 40-33.
Louisville shot just 33.3% from the field during the first half, while UAB connected on 44% of their shot attempts. Dartez led U of L with eight points and Whitehead grabbed nine first half rebounds.
Both teams opened the second failing to convert shots, however, Louisville's ability to penetrate into the lane and draw fouls helped the Cardinals build a 47-36 lead at the first media timeout.
Whitehead prepares to grab
another rebound (ITV)
Jenkins finished the contest with 8 points, 1 assist and three steals, but more importantly no turnovers.
"We practiced not turning the ball over," said Jenkins. "It was the one thing I was thinking about besides defense."
After trading points at the charity stripe, Louisville jumped out to a 15 point lead with 5:35 remaining on a three-pointer by Larry O'Bannon. A layup by Dean three minutes later put the Cardinals up 67-50.
"There was a lot of rust...I haven't touched the ball in about two weeks, but I'm getting back to it," said Dean of his return to action.
Louisville won it's 17th contest of the season 73-55.
Senior forward Luke Whitehead recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 18 rebounds. Larry O'Bannon led the Cardinals with 15 points, while Taquan Dean added 11.
Garcia injures other ankle (ITV)
"Francisco sprained his other ankle," said Pitino. "He could not have gone back out there. He's a tough kid. The key is that he is way out of shape."
Louisville will next travel to Charlotte for a Conference USA battle on Thursday, a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN 2.
NOTES FROM THE SIDELINE:
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