Cards Run Past Vols 85-62

No. 14 Louisville used a dominating defense to spark a 35-5 second half run to defeat Buzz Peterson and Tennessee.

Locked in another tight game with Tennessee, Louisville turned to its star.

And Francisco Garcia delivered, scoring 20 points and keying a 24-2 second-half spurt in an 85-62 victory Saturday.

"I'm always confident," said Garcia. "I said, 'I need to step up and be the leader.' My teammates were looking for me."

Garcia had seven points, two rebounds and two assists during the 9-minute run, which started with Louisville down 53-50.

"I knew we were going to come back. We play great at home," said Garcia, who finished with nine rebounds and four assists.

Larry O'Bannon scored 15 and Ellis Myles had 12 points and five rebounds after breaking his left thumb in Wednesday's 92-41 win over East Carolina.

The Cardinals (16-3) have won 10 of 11 games since a 60-58 loss to Kentucky on Dec. 18.

"We are playing better basketball," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We are doing the little things better, pressing better and pressing more intelligently."

Louisville and Tennessee ended a four-game series Saturday. The Cardinals won the previous three by a total of seven points.

This one looked as if it was going down to the wire, too.

Neither team led by more than five until Garcia's 3-pointer from the wing with 8:02 left put the Cardinals up 62-55.

Otis George, in his second game back since recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot, had a dunk, two layups and an assist to Brandon Jenkins to send the lead into double digits.

"I've just got so much energy," George said. "Sometimes, the coach tells me I have to slow down."

The Vols went five minutes without a field goal, totally collapsing after a 3-pointer by Chris Lofton, a former Kentucky high school standout, gave them a 53-50 lead with 13:16 left.

The Vols shot 50 percent in the first half and 33 percent in the second.

"When a team shoots 33 percent in the second half, that's defense," Myles said.

Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson admitted he erred by not getting more rest for the starters as the second half unfolded. Four of five starters logged more than 30 minutes.

"We just ran out of gas," he said.

Tennessee's fifth starter, 6-10 center Brandon Crump, scored the Vols' first two baskets, then sprained his left ankle two minutes into the game. The team's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer did not return.

"It was really devastating," Lofton said. "We missed him a lot and it showed."

Lofton had 15 points to lead Tennessee (10-8).

The lead changed seven times in a fast-paced opening 10 minutes. A dunk by Juan Palacios and a baseline jumper by Garcia put the Cardinals up 24-19.

The Vols went six minutes without a field goal, but stayed close by going 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.

Pitino drew a technical foul from referee Gerald Boudreaux with 0.5 seconds left in the half and Lofton sank four free throws to trim the Vols' deficit to 38-37 at the break.

Taquan Dean picked up his third foul 36 seconds into the second half and Andre Patterson hit two free throws to give the Vols a one-point edge.

But seconds after Lofton gave the Vols their last lead, O'Bannon sank a 3-pointer and Louisville's defense came alive, forcing the Vols into turnovers and bad shots the rest of the way.

"We talked about having our run," Pitino said. "We expected our run to come at home and we fed off each other."

Louisville has won eight of 10 games against Southeastern Conference teams since Pitino arrived in 2001.

Cardinal Authority Top Stories