But the first half was all about Markel Humphrey and Mark Dorris. The Marshall duo combined for a stellar 7-of-8 from three-point range in the first half, enabling The Herd to lead by as many as six points, 21-15, on a Dorris three with 12:25 left.
"They were playing very loose and I give that credit to them," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino of Marshall's three-point shooting in the first half. "They were unexpected because they were way beyond the three-point line and we just didn't expect it.
"The three-point line is a great neutralizer of talent."
The hot shooting overcame 11 Marshall turnovers in the first half, which U of L turned into 17 points.
"It's hard to have 17 turnovers on the road and get a victory," Marshall coach Donnie Jones said of the Herd's miscues, although MU had only six turnovers in the second half.
Marshall held Louisville without a point over the last three minutes of the first half after U of L took its largest first half lead of four points. Tirrell Baines had two lay-ups, the second with just :34 left in the half, to knot the score at 37-37 at the end of the first half.
In the second half, Louisville took the ball inside and Marshall's big men had no answer. With the score again tied (for the ninth time in the contest) at 46-46, U of L went on a 20-3 run over a six-minute span, pulling out to a 66-49 lead, their largest of the game.
"We couldn't get the ball past half court for a while. That caused a problem, we gave up a lot of easy buckets there," Marshall coach Donnie Jones said. Louisville sophomore forward Derrick Caracter, who was suspended indefinitely before the Cards' loss to Purdue on Saturday, was reinstated by Pitino and his second half scoring led Louisville to the win. Caracter had 14 of his 18 points in the second half, and added eight rebounds and four blocks as U of L blocked 13 shots put up by the Herd inside.
The Herd battled back from down 17. A three by Taurean Marshall followed by a Humphrey dunk got Marshall to within seven at 66-59, but The Herd couldn't keep the momentum going when Humphrey's bid for a 5-for-5 night from three saw the ball go into the hoop, and then spin out on a shot that could have cut the lead to four. The Cards' Edgar Sosa drained a three to stop the MU run, Louisville slowly pulled away back out to a 14-point lead and coasted home for the 85-75 win over Marshall. The Herd is 5-9 all-time against the 'Ville, but 0-6 in games played in the Derby City.
"I told some of our guys when we were down seven, if we cut it to four then we would have a chance to win," Jones continued. "Then we missed that shot, they came down and shot a three. Our guys really hung in there."
Humphrey finished with 24 points, one short of a career best on a night where he hit 4-of-5 from three and 8-for-16 from the field. Dorris added 21, bouncing back from his double-digit streak being broken in the win over Rio Grande. Baines overcame a slow start and some sloppy ball handling (four turnovers) to score a solid 18 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
The Herd shot 37 percent from the field, while hitting 44 percent from three (10-of-23). Marshall had a season-best 91.3 percent, making 21 of their 23 free throws. Louisville mustered just 11-of-23 from the line, although the Cards hit 32-of-63 from the field (51 percent).
"We needed this victory tonight badly," said Pitino. The Cards were coming off two losses in a row, at home to Dayton and at Indianapolis against the Boilermakers, and fell out of the Top 25 this week. Reporters in Louisville met the quick return of Caracter, who was suspended last season for 18 games as a true freshman, as a questionable move by Pitino, who is missing two of his top seniors with knee and knee-cap injuries.
The Cards move up to 6-3 overall, while Marshall is now 5-3 with the loss. Next up for The Herd is a home game against the Princeton Tigers this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in the Cam Henderson Center. The Ivy League school, who blew out the Herd last year in New Jersey, 61-45, is struggling this season with a 2-9 mark to date. Marshall will then have a short break before continuing the home stand with Lipscomb (Dec. 29, 3 p.m.), San Diego (Dec. 31, 2 p.m.) and Winthrop on January 5, 2008, at 2 p.m. That game will be followed by the MU women's team opening Conference USA play with East Carolina at 5 p.m. on the 8th.