Dean, who was perfect in six free throw attempts, led all the Cardinals with 19 points, while also grabbing 6 rebounds and handing out 4 assists.
"I think Taquan let the game come to him tonight," said U of L head coach Rick Pitino. "He didn't force it."
Junior Brandon Jenkins, who entered the game as the team's second-leading scorer, poured in 17 points, with 3 assists and 3 steals. Sophomore center David Padgett added 16 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while forward Juan Palacios scored 13, including 10 in the first half.
"I thought we played well, especially in the first half on defense," said Padgett following the win. "We were just focused on getting better and trying to win the game. The last few days in practice have been real good, so we just wanted to come out and get better before we go down to Miami and then start with the Big East next week."
The post-game talk following the 23-point win continued to shift towards this weekend's game against Miami in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.
"Our effort level was sky-high [tonight]," said Pitino of his team's effort against Fairleigh Dickinson. "The guys were really energized to perform well, because they know what is around the corner. We know that we have to improve. We are going to face a tough Miami team [on Saturday]. We wanted to come out tonight and play with unbelievable effort and get ready for what lays ahead."
After the difficult road test at Miami on New Year's Eve, the 10-1 Cardinals return home and begin Big East Conference play when third-ranked Villanova visits on Thursday, January 5. Rick Pitino said that despite the rough schedule ahead, that he continues to be optimistic about his team's chances at the end of the season.
"Every single guy has so much room for improvement," Pitino continued. "If we can just hold tough in the Big East and stay upbeat and get some wins we will be fine come February. We're going to be a much better basketball team, but we're nowhere near where we need to be – we're nowhere near where we were last year. Our effort level is great, so if we can just keep improving and keep getting better, then I am very optimistic about this season."