Jenkins career-best leads Cards to win

Junior guard Brandon Jenkins scored a career-best 20 points in Louisville's 76-68 win over Middle Tennessee in the first game of the Billy Minardi Classic

Brandon Jenkins paced Louisville with a career-high 20 points and handed out 5 assists to lead the Cardinals in a 76-68 win over Middle Tennessee State in the Billy Minardi Classic at Freedom Hall on Tuesday evening.

The game was slowed throughout as the officials called 53 fouls on the evening, leading to four players being forced to leave the game with five, including U of L senior guard Taquan Dean. Adding to the oddness of the game came with 16 minutes remaining in the contest when MTSU head coach Kermit Davis was hit with two technicals.

"That was the most bizarre game I've ever witnessed in my life," said Cardinal head coach Rick Pitino. "I've never seen anything like it. I'm not sure what I watched. I'm afraid to watch film in terms of what went on out there."

After building a 15-point lead with 13:30 remaining, the 10th-ranked Cardinals held off a Blue Raiders rally that cut the advantage to 66-63 with four minutes remaining.

Sophomore David Padgett also added a new career best with 18 points, while Taquan Dean contributed 10 points in the win.

"I just talked with him," Pitino said of Dean's 1-for-5 shooting performance in the second half. "He doesn't understand that because Francisco Garcia's not there, Larry O'Bannon's not there. He's on an island by himself he's the one great player. Their whole focus is stop Dean. He's got to get used to that and play through it and not be concerned about it. We talked about it and we're going to watch some film on that."

Sophomore guard Brad Gianiny logged 35 minutes in his first career start, but was held scoreless until the final seconds of the game when connected on two free-throw attempts.

"I was just concerned about winning," Pitino said of the decision to start Gianiny. "They got a great lefty [Adam Vogelsberg] and we had to stop him. We've got to win the game right now. The freshmen have got enough experience. I can't concern myself with playing time - we've got to win. If you lose tonight, your back's to the wall. We did a decent job tonight under trying circumstances."

Louisville, which improved to 7-1 on the season, will face College of Charleston in the Billy Minardi championship game on Wednesday evening.

GAME NOTES:

  • Sophomore guard Brad Gianiny made his first career start for the Cardinals at guard this evening.
  • U of L raised its record to 35-3 in December under head coach Rick Pitino.
  • Louisville has won all four first round games in the four-year history of the Billy Minardi Classic, which began in 2002 to honor the memory of Billy Minardi, the brother-in-law of U of L coach Rick Pitino, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
  • Junior guard Brandon Jenkins reached double figures for the sixth time in eight games, which is more than the two previous seasons combined of three. Jenkins scored a new career-high of 20 points and handed out five assists. Jenkins' previous high mark was 16 against Prairie View on 12/3/05. He was 7-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
  • U of L failed to shoot a better percentage in the second half for the first time in eight games this season.
  • The Cardinals buried a season-low four three-pointers in the win. Louisville was just 4-of-15 from behind the arc for a season-low 26.7 percent.
  • Sophomore center David Padgett reached a new career-high with 18 points, besting his old mark of 17 in his first game at U of L versus Prairie View on 12/3/05.
  • U of L raised is 77-10 when holding its opponent below 70 points over the last five years under Pitino.

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