Blowout! Cards sweep Rutgers

Louisville (16-6, 6-3) swept the season series against Rutgers Saturday at Freedom Hall with an impressive, 87-50, win over the Scarlet Knights.

Saturday was 1980's day at Freedom Hall. Music from that meomorable decade was played during breaks in the University of Louisville's Big East game against Rutgers, and the UofL students did their best to imitate the fashion from that era too.

The basketball team followed suit, putting on a performance worthy of a decade that produced two national championships for the Cardinals.

Playing perhaps its most complete game of the season - and one that likely would've made the Doctors of Dunk and "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison & Co. proud - UofL routed Rutgers 87-50 in front of 19,397 at Freedom Hall.

"I think this was the definition of a team win, we did a lot of good things as a team," senior center David Padgett said. "I think any UofL team would be proud of the way we played. It was Rick Pitino basketball, we came out and pressed and got after them."


UofL (16-6, 6-3) raced to a 14-2 lead and never looked back in slaying the Scarlet Knights, who came in on the rise after recently beating two ranked teams (Villanova and Pittsburgh).

"We were ready to play from the opening tip," Pitino said. "They'd been playing outstanding basketball and we just wanted to play great defense from the opening tip, and we did."

Five Cardinals scored in double figures led by sophomores Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter, who had 12 points apiece. Terrence Williams added 11 points and tied Clark for team-high rebounding honors with 10. Edgar Sosa and freshman Preston Knowles chipped in with 10 points each for UofL, which shot 48.4 percent (31 of 64) from the field.

"It's a great win to bounce back from the game against Connecticut," senior forward Juan Palacios said.

Reserve Corey Chandler scored 11 points to lead Rutgers (10-13, 2-8), which played the Cards tough less than a month ago in New Jersey in a 64-49 loss. More recently the Scarlet Knights had shot 50 percent, or better, in Rutgers' upsets over the Wildcats and Panthers, but Saturday was a different story.

"Just looking at the stats and the type of team that they have, it's not one person, it's everybody, and that's what makes a great basketball team and also a very dangerous team," Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. "There is a reason Louisville was picked to win the Big East conference. They are starting to play great basketball. They are healthy and today we saw the reason why they are the co-favorites to win this league with Georgetown."

It was a long day for the Scarlet Knights, who shot just 32.7 percent (17 of 52) and missed their first eight shots in quickly falling behind by 12 (14-2). Rutgers rebounded, but only slightly. The Scarlet Knights trailed 22-11 before UofL went on a 12-2 run.

How good were things going for the Cards?

Even when they went wrong they went right.

Late in the first half Sosa drove the lane and tried to slip a pass to Terrance Farley. Farley fumbled it, but it went right into the waiting hands of Smith, who promptly buried a three.

It got even better moments late when Farley got out on the fast break and finished it off with a dunk that gave UofL a 34-13 lead - its largest lead to that point.

The Cards' cushion grew as large as 25 and they led 42-18 at intermission.

UofL shot 51.6 percent (16 of 31) in the first half and were red-hot from three-point range, hitting 7 of 12 (58.3 percent).

Smith led Louisville with nine points in the first half while Sosa and Knowles added eight points apiece.

Rutgers, meanwhile, shot just 26.9 percent (7 of 26) from the field and was only 2 of 8 (25 percent) from three-point range. Anthony Farmer led the Scarlet Knights with six points in the first half.

"We were very successful with our defense, this is probably the most aggressive we've played," Knowles said.

The second half was more of the same. A dunk by Padgett with 15:31 to play pushed UofL's lead to 30 (52-22) and it moved past 40 (71-30) on Clark's jumper with 7:59 to play.

Pitino began to empty his bench at that point and the reserves provided several late highlights. The biggest may have been Lee Steiden's assist to Farley for a huge dunk with less than four minutes to play. Even Pitino cracked a smile on the UofL bench as Farley celebrated the slam.

The Cards begin a very challenging part of their schedule Monday night when they travel to Marquette before hosting Georgetown next Saturday.

"There's no easy way around this schedule," Pitino said. "But unless we pull out and go to another league that's how it will be every year."

Pitino paused, then under his breath, but audible to the media, he added: "I wish we'd do that."

Then he added with a laugh, "Only kidding."

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