Cards down Marshall for Pitino's 500th win

Louisville (6-3) knocked off visiting Marshall 85-75 Tuesday night at Freedom Hall to give Rick Pitino his 500th career win.

With some vintage Rick Pitino-style basketball the University of Louisville men's coach got his 500th victory Tuesday night.

And he also got Derrick Caracter back in the lineup.

In a game that featured 49 three-point shots and some pressure defense, the latter turned the tide the Cardinals' way in an 85-75 win over Marshall in front of 19,036 fans at Freedom Hall.

Tied at halftime, UofL used a 20-3 second-half surge to take command. The run was highlighted by trademark Pitino plays – trapping D and shooting the three. Meanwhile Caracter, the 6-foot-9 sophomore forward, returned from his recent suspension and scored 18 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for the Cards, who finished with 10 three-pointers and turned 17 Marshall miscues into 25 points.

Afterward Pitino, who lost his previous two games to Dayton and Purdue, downplayed the milestone victory.

"It's insignificant, it really is," Pitino said.

"We took a little time to get it, but we finally got it for him," junior Terrence Williams said. "He's not showing much emotion right now, but maybe he will later."

Earl Clark, who was 0-for-7 from the field and had two points in 39 minutes in last Saturday's loss to Purdue, scored 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting to lead Louisville. In addition to the contributions from Caracter, who came off the bench, the Cards (6-3) also got 13 points from Andre McGee as UofL's reserves outscored their counterparts 39-12.

Markel Humphrey led Marshall (5-3) with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Mark Dorris added 21 points and Tirrell Baines 18.

The third time was the charm but Marshall - which was picked to finish ninth in the 12-team Conference USA in the preseason - made sure it wasn't easy.

Derrick Caracter returned with an
impressive outing against Marshall.

The Thundering Herd rode red-hot three-point shooting to a 37-all halftime tie. Marshall made 7 of 9 shots (77.8 percent) from behind the arc. Humphrey made 4 of 4 threes on his way to 16 first-half points, while Baines added 12 points and five rebounds.

The Cards weren't too shabby themselves. They made 6 of 13 (46.2 percent) threes and kept it close by converting 11 Thundering Herd turnovers into 17 points.

The two teams were still tied early in the second half when Clark's basket with 15:51 remaining began UofL's decisive run. Clark accounted for eight points, with three baskets and an assist to Caracter, as the Cards reeled off 10 points in a row for a 56-46 lead. Marshall hit two free throws, then UofL went on a 10-1 run ignited by its defense.

"We couldn't get the ball past halfcourt for a while, that caused a problem," said first-year Marshall coach Donnie Jones, a former Florida assistant. "We gave up a lot of easy buckets there. We just weren't getting the shots up – we had 17 turnovers. That took us out of our flow, out of our rhythm."

The Thundering Herd made one final run, cutting the lead to 66-59 on Humphrey's dunk. Marshall had a chance moments later to edge even closer, but Humphrey's three went in, then out. Edgar Sosa hit a run on UofL's ensuing possession to push the lead back to 10, 69-59.

"I thought the key to the game was the pressure Andre (McGee) and Jerry (Smith) gave us in the backcourt," Pitino said.

After the game the talk turned to Caracter, who missed the loss to Purdue, against whom he was sorely missed inside.

"I'm upset at him, but he's also done a great job of what he's had to do (to get back on the team)," Pitino said. "I'm still upset but that kid, I put him through more than I did anyone in eight years at Kentucky."

Pitino went even further, adding that Caracter had sworn off almost everything else but basketball.

"He's like a monk, call him monk Derrick," Pitino said.

In the locker room afterward Caracter was surrounded by reporters.

"I went out and I made a mistake, I just have to keep moving forward," he said.

Caracter added that the recent night he broke curfew came when he was trying to show a recruit around.

"It was a breakdown in communication," Caracter said. "I'm just trying to stay positive. It was hard to watch us lose to Purdue, but I had to just look in the mirror and realize it's me.

"I feel I let the fans down, my teammates and coaches down…I just want to change my image around."

Caracter took a major step toward that Tuesday night.

"It felt great, I wanted to go out there with my team and win," he said. "At this point I'm going to take it one day at a time and try and turn things around."

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