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.