The win improves Louisville's Big East record to 8-4 and puts the Cards alone in fourth place in the league behind Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Marquette. Louisville's victory was also significant for another reason – as it snapped a 13-game losing streak for the Cardinals against ranked opponents.
"We were great," Rick Pitino said. "We knew this was our game of the season. I told them that we needed a win over Pitt. We played great basketball in every phase of the game."
Louisville, playing with a sense of urgency, knocked the Panthers off their heels from the start, building an early lead that they never relinquished. The Cardinals used pressure defense to force 15 first half turnovers to build a 36-19 halftime lead.
"We were just trying to prove everybody wrong," sophomore forward Terrence Williams said. "We just wanted to come out and play our best. We came out aggressive and wanted to go inside to D.P. and get (Aaron) Gray in foul trouble."
That's exactly what Louisville did. The Cardinals went inside to David Padgett often, and the 6-11 junior came through for Louisville, scoring a game-high 16 points and getting the 7-foot Gray into foul trouble.
Aaron Gray in Louisville's 66-53 win.
Padgett was the only player for Louisville to score in double figures, but the Cardinals got balanced scoring across the board. Juan Palacios and Edgar Sosa both scored nine points, while Terrence Williams and Derrick Caracter scored eight points each.
"(Derrick) can really help us," Pitino said. "This is a great freshman class. Sosa was great and Caracter is buying into the team character."
Despite foul problems, Gray led Pittsburgh with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Louisville shot the ball as well as it has all season, primarily by going inside to Padgett, Palacios and Caracter. Louisville outscored Pittsburgh 42-16 inside the paint.
The Cardinals shot 49 percent from the floor, attempting just 11 three's, while holding the Panthers to just 35 percent, and made just 3-of-22 three-point attempts. Pittsburgh entered the game shooting a Big East-leading 43 percent from beyond the arch, but missed their first 13 three's against Louisville.
"Execution-wise that was the best of the season for us," Pitino said. "We beat them in convincing fashion."
It won't get any easier for the Cardinals, who travel to Marquette Saturday against the Golden Eagles. Marquette defeated the Cards last month in Louisville.
"Everybody is happy, but we'll be focused on Marquette as soon as we get off the plane," said Williams, who dished out seven assists without a turnover.
Williams performance was quite pleasing to his coach. "I thought he was brilliant, that's the way I expect him to play," Pitino said.