With 10:45 remaining in the first half of play, Louisville used tight defense to spark a 16-0 run and open a 15-point lead at 28-13. Bryant Northern scored the Cardinals next nine points, all on 3-pointers, as Louisville built its largest lead of the game at 34-18.
Memphis used a 9-2 run to close the first half to pull within nine, trailing 36-27 at the intermission.
While most expected Memphis center Chris Massie to create problems for the Louisville defense, it was actually reserve guard John Grice that kept the Tigers in the game. Grice hit 6 of 10 3-point attempts and finished with 29 points in the game.
Marvin Stone played a key role in keeping the Tigers leading scorer in Massie without a point in the contest. Massie fouled out 8 rebounds and 4 turnovers, while Stone finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds.
"We wanted to double team a great player and we knew that coming in," said Stone. "We wanted to take him out of the game and we felt if we took him out of the game we would win the game."
"The guys did a wonderful job at playing defense and Marvin Stone's presence takes us from a team shooting a high percentage to a team shooting a low percentage," said Rick Pitino. "What he gives doesn't show up in a stat sheet. He's a big son of a gun, he bothers everybody and he changes shots."
Grice's 3-point shooting helped Memphis pull closer and eventually take the lead at 72-71 with under a minute remaining in the game. They streched their lead to 74-71 with 33 seconds remaining. Two free throws by Fransisco Garcia pulled the Cardinals within 74-73.
Following Antonio Burks making 1 of 2 free throws for the Tigers with 20 seconds left, U of L's Taquan Dean hit a 3-pointer to give the Cardinals a 76-75 lead.
Luke Whitehead, who finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, was fouled on a defensive rebound and hit both free throws to give the Cardinals the 78-75 victory.