The Cardinals, who beat UT-Martin Saturday afternoon to open the season, played without Juan Palacios and David Padgett in the exhibition. In their absence, U of L coach Rick Pitino got valuable experience for his freshmen.
6-6 freshman Terrence Williams led the Cardinals with 17 points, and provided a big spark for U of L in the second half.
Taquan Dean pitched in 16 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and three steals. The 6-3 senior guard hit 5-9 shots from the field, including 3-4 three-pointers.
Even with Williams' strong play, and Dean's outstanding all-around performance, the Cardinals trailed 41-37 at halftime. Williams said he took his coaches halftime challenge to heart.
"At halftime, Coach Pitino challenged the freshmen to play harder," said Williams. "He said we weren't going to play zone or press and just get after it with our man-to-man. And we stepped it up in the second half."
Pitino opened the second half with his veterans on the bench, electing to start all five freshmen. It proved a wise move.
Keyed by Williams, U of L opened the second half with a 12-0 run for a 49-41 lead.
SIU, though, refused to go away, tying the game only a few moments later.
The game remained close throughout the final minutes of the game. But 6-4 freshman guard Bryan Harvey hit 3-4 free throws in the final minute and Dean made a key steal with 14 seconds left in the game to secure the win for the Cardinals.
"We shot the ball well two nights in a row, but we still can't stop anyone," Pitino said. "It's very frustrating having seven newcomers. But we'll remain positive and upbeat about it."
Five players scored in double-figures for Southern Indiana, led by Chris Thompson's 17 points. Danny Gibson scored 14 points.
Andre McGee was the only other player for Louisville to score double-figures. The 5-foot-11 freshman scored 12 points.
6-9 Brian Johnson saw action in the first half for Louisville, but didn't return in the second half.
"He said his knee was sore, so there was no reason to play him in an exhibition," said Pitino.