Cards Top Ford, Colonels 78-63

Led by Francisco Garcia's 23 points, the Louisville Cardinals improved to 10-2 with a 78-63 victory over Eastern Kentucky Thursday night in Freedom Hall.

Louisville started slow, holding a 6-4 lead at the first media timeout, and Eastern Kentucky stayed close for about the first 10 minutes of the game. But the Cardinals slowly pulled ahead to lead by 10 midway through the first half, 21-11. The lead would hover around ten for a time, with the Cardinals ahead 28-18 with 6:53 remaining in the first. Over the final 6:00 plus, Louisville outscored Eastern 20-7, including a 13-2 run over the final 5:00 minutes to hold a 48-25 advantage at the break. Francisco Garcia finished the first with 15 points on 5-7 shooting.

Rick Pitino was pleased with the Cardinals first half effort, but eluded to the one thing that the team continues to need to work on. "We did a lot of good things in the first half; still our achilles heel is haunting us, our lack of blocking out." Pitino mentioned that due to their lack of size and length, they must all be focused on technique to insure they are a good rebounding team; but he says the team often forgets to use technique to block out. "It's very difficult to comprehend, because we're small, we have no reach; and we're not blocking out… I think Otis coming back will give us a big lift… Right now we only have one person consistently blocking out and that's Taquan." The Cardinals were outrebounded by the Colonels 35-24 on the night, Ellis Myles led the Cards with 10 boards.

The second half was again a slow start, but only for one team. While the Cardinals were committing 7 turnovers in the first 5 minutes of the second half, Eastern rallied, outscoring Louisville 21-8 in the first 10 minutes of the second half, cutting the lead to just 56-46 on a pair of Jason McLeish free throws with 10:22 to play. But the Colonels would not get any closer, as Louisville managed to hold off any further rally and keep the lead in double-figures.

The Cardinals would use good free throw shooting down the stretch (28-36 on the night) to fend off any hopes of a EKU comeback, and come away with the 15-point victory.

Pitino was very pleased with his teams first half effort, but equally as disappointed in the way they played after halftime, in particular how they began the second. "We weren't blocking out, they were just playing like the game was meaningless & throwing the ball away, they weren't running their offense. The first option was taken away, the second option was dribbling the basketball… against good teams you got to get to the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth option."

Pitino praised Travis Ford's squad on their ability to take away the Cardinals weapons, in particular the outside shot of his squad, most notably Taquan Dean. The Cardinals finished with only 6 three-point field goals on the night, and only got off 14 attempts. Dean was not only held to zero three-point goals, but to no field goals of any kind for the game, getting all 8 of his points at the free-throw line with a perfect 8-8 outing.

The Cardinals are back in action again Sunday afternoon when they close out pre-conference action by hosting Tennessee State at Freedom Hall at 2pm.

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