Cards put clamps on MU; stay in Big East race

No. 6 Louisville (23-5, 14-2) stayed in the Big East regular-season title race with a 62-58 win over No. 8 Marquette Sunday afternoon at Freedom Hall.

It wasn't pretty.

It wasn't easy.

But it was enough to keep the University of Louisville's Big East title hopes alive.

That sums up the Cardinals' 62-58 win over Marquette on Sunday afternoon in front of 20,079 fans - most of whom were dressed in white - at Freedom Hall.

"Just another easy Big East game," joked UofL coach Rick Pitino, who also took part in the "White Out" with his white suit. "We know each other so well, even from Conference USA...that defense has to prevail and our guys did a great job defensively tonight."

The win pulled the sixth-ranked Cards (23-5, 14-2) within a half-game of No. 2 Connecticut (27-2, 15-2) in the conference standings. UofL has two games remaining - against Seton Hall on Wednesday and at West Virginia on Saturday - while the Huskies have one - at No. 1 Pitt (26-3, 13-3) at noon Saturday.

Louisville put the clamps on high scoring
Marquette in Sunday's 62-58 win (AP).

Senior guard Andre McGee led Louisville with a season-high 16 points.

"Andre's having a great senior year," Pitino said. "He's the unsung hero of our basketball team."

McGee, who has more of a reputation for his defense, hit 6 of 10 shots, including a rare two-handed dunk.

"I'm just playing hard," said McGee, who was also 4 of 7 from three-point range. "I'm just a blue-collar guy that clocks into work every day."

Senior forward Terrence Williams added 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while freshman center Samardo Samuels had 12 points and junior forward Earl Clark 10 points and 13 rebounds.

"I think Louisville is one of the top two or three teams in the country," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "We had 34 possessions the first half, they had 26, but we couldn't keep that up in the second half."

Of course things were even more difficult for the eighth-ranked Warriors (23-6, 12-4), who played their first full game without senior guard Dominic James. James broke his left foot early in Marquette's loss to UConn on Wednesday night.

But the Warriors still made a game of it. In a matchup of the Big East's best scoring offense (Marquette came in averaging 80 points per game) and the Big East's best scoring defense (UofL entered allowing 61.6 ppg), the Cards' D won out. The Warriors shot 33.9 percent (19 of 56) from the field and scored their second-fewest points of the season.

Neither team lit it up early. Marquette was just 4-for-18 in the first 10 minutes, while UofL was only 4-for-14.

The Cards led 28-25 at halftime thanks to 45.8 percent (11 of 24) shooting and 12 points from T-Will.

The Warriors, meanwhile, shot just 31.3 percent (10 of 32) in the first half, including 27.3 percent (3 for 11) from three-point range.

Marquette scored the first point of the second half on a free throw, but UofL reeled off 10 straight points. Clark's dunk gave the Cards a 38-26 lead.

"We came out ready to play in the second half," Pitino said.

Moments later, though, things seemed to shift the Warriors' way as Clark tipped a would-be rebound into Marquette's basket.

The Warriors answered UofL's run with one of its own. They scored eight straight, pulling to within 41-38 on a free throw by Jerel McNeal with 10:54 remaining.

Although Marquette wouldn't get closer than three points the rest of the game the Warriors definitely made the Cards work until the end.

Lazar Hayward's three-pointer with 22 seconds left pulled Marquette again within three (61-58). Samuels then hit one free throw at 21.9 to make it a four-point game, before Wesley Matthews missed an off-balance three as he tried to draw contact on the Warriors' last possession.

Matthews led Marquette with 19 points, while Hayward added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Meanwhile McNeal, the team's leading scorer at 20 ppg, tallied only 10 on 3-for-19 shooting, including 2 of 10 from behind the arc.

"We just didn't want to give them the three," Pitino said.. "We wanted to pressure their three-point shooters."

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