Taquan Dean scored 25 points Saturday to lead the Cardinals' furious comeback from a 17-point deficit in a 69-66 victory over then-No. 18 Cincinnati in one of the most remarkable games in the long-standing rivalry.
The Cardinals (14-3, 3-1 Conference USA) got shoved around and trailed by 17 points in the first half, rattled by Cincinnati's unrelenting man-to-man defense. Louisville found its composure, asserted itself inside and showed more poise when it mattered.
After Jihad Muhammad's long 3-point attempt smacked harmlessly off the backboard to end the game, Dean climbed onto the shoulders of forward Ellis Myles and rode off the court, his mouth open in amazement.
``I knew my teammates would step it up eventually,'' said Dean, who was 7-of-13 from behind the arc. ``We've been in that situation before. We just looked at each other and said, 'We're going to win this game.' We didn't look at each other once and look down.''
``This was a hell of a basketball game,'' Pitino said. ``We had to battle down from a major deficit on the road and you have to have tough kids to do that.''
Dean was honored as Conference USA player of the week Monday after averaging 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and shooting 62.5 percent from 3-point range against Cincinnati and Southern Mississippi.
Averaging 14.7 points, Dean is second in scoring for Louisville behind junior forward Francisco Garcia, who scores 17 per game.
East Carolina (5-11, 0-4) has dropped four straight, including a 76-64 loss to UAB on Saturday.
``It is the same old story,'' East Carolina coach Bill Herrion said. ``We get off to a good start and then turn it over a couple times and they get some easy baskets. With 13 turnovers at the half, you are not going to win basketball games in this league with that.''
Louisville has won five straight over East Carolina, including a 61-54 victory in the first round of the Conference USA tournament last year.