Cards ready for test at UAB

The ninth-ranked Cardinals look to stop another team seeking a share of first place in the conference as they visit Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday.

Louisville showed it is the team to beat in Conference USA in its last game.

The ninth-ranked Cardinals look to stop another team seeking a share of first place in the conference as they visit Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday.

Louisville (19-3, 7-1) completed a season series sweep of No. 18 Cincinnati with a 77-70 home win over on Wednesday night. Taquan Dean scored 19 points and freshman Juan Palacios added 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Cardinals won their eighth straight overall since opening conference play with a three-point loss at Houston.

Palacios, averaging 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds, banked in a 3-pointer with 1:18 left to give Louisville a seven-point lead.

The 6-foot-8, 245-pound Colombian is first in conference play with a .618 shooting percentage -- including .647 on 3-pointers.

"Here's a young man that played a lot of soccer and didn't pick up basketball until late," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of Palacios. "He came over and didn't speak fluent English and now he does. But he really understands the game and when you tell him, you don't have to repeat it.

"He has great hands, he's a wide body and takes up space, he can pass and he runs the floor really well. He's only going to get better and better."

Louisville defeated Cincinnati for the sixth time in the last 10 meetings despite leading scorer Francisco Garcia making just 5 of 14 shots and finishing with 11 points before fouling out with 1:59 remaining. Garcia, the only Cardinals player to start every game this season, is averaging 16.5 points.

"That was big for us because somewhere along that line that's going to happen again," Pitino said about winning after Garcia fouled out. "We kept preaching defense and that was a big confidence builder for us to play without him."

Senior forward Ellis Myles has missed only one game and is averaging 10.2 points and 9.3 rebounds, which is second in the conference.

UAB (16-5, 6-2) has won three straight and is tied with Cincinnati, DePaul and Memphis for second place in the conference. Demario Eddins matched his season high with 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Blazers to an 86-63 rout at Marquette on Wednesday night.

Eddins, a 6-7 junior forward, was 8-of-10 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line to raise his scoring average to 12.4.

"I thought Demario played with a lot of energy. He gives us another dimension when you talk about a guy at that particular position (power forward) because he's so versatile," UAB coach Mike Anderson said. "He can score, but it's not just his scoring. It's his ball handling and (Wednesday night), it was his defense. I thought he did some good things defensively."

The Blazers, who start three guards, outscored Marquette 50-6 in the paint. Leading scorer Donell Taylor had 15 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals for UAB, which had just five turnovers compared to Marquette's 22. The 6-6 senior guard is averaging 15.2 points per game. He is shooting 54 percent (13-of-24) in his last three games.

The Cardinals have won the last three meetings with the Blazers and lead the all-time series, 9-4. In the last meeting, Larry O'Bannon had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Louisville to a 73-55 home win last Feb. 7. O'Bannon, a 6-4 senior guard, is third on the team in scoring at 14.3 points.

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