<
>

Cardinals build early lead against sloppy TCU

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino called on an
inspirational speaker to help his team get a feel-good victory
Saturday.

Freshman Juan Palacios scored 23 points, and Francisco Garcia
added 21 to help the Cardinals (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 17 AP) beat mistake-plagued TCU
86-61.

Palacios added seven rebounds, and Garcia had five assists for
the Cardinals (12-3, 1-1 Conference USA), who scored 22 points off
23 TCU turnovers.

The injury-depleted Cardinals were coming off a 70-67 loss at
Houston on Wednesday and Pitino sensed his team's morale was low.

After practice Friday, Wayne Cook, a motivational speaker who
has cerebral palsy, spoke to the team.

"We really needed it," Pitino said. "It was a great lesson
for our guys. We've been feeling sorry for ourselves and this
really helped."

The players said the speech made a deep impact.

"Everybody kind of appreciated life a little more," said
Garcia.

The Horned Frogs appeared to be the team with the shaken
confidence Saturday.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 17-2 lead as the Horned Frogs had
11 turnovers in the first 9 minutes. Three minutes later, TCU had
14 turnovers and trailed 24-7.

"Where we had our problem was that they were way better
defensively than we were offensively," TCU coach Neil Dougherty
said. "They just took us out of a lot of things."

TCU's early sloppiness set aside Pitino's concerns about
starting point guard Taquan Dean, who's coped with back spasms all
week.

Sophomore Brandon Jenkins made his second start of the season in
Dean's place. But Dean came off the bench and was often on the
floor with Jenkins.

Dean had nine points and three assists in 26 minutes and Jenkins
had five points, two assists and eight rebounds in 30 minutes.

Pitino said Jenkins was the most valuable player of the game --
more for his defense than his offense. Jenkins had three steals and
limited Corey Santee, TCU's leading scorer, to 13 points on 5-of-15
shooting.

"I told him in the locker room, 'You were the key to the
game," Pitino said. "His pressure was relentless."

The Horned Frogs committed only one turnover in the final eight
minutes of the opening half, but Garcia and Palacios made sure the
Cardinals kept their comfortable lead.

The duo scored 28 of Louisville's first 34 points, with the
6-foot-7 Garcia either creating shots off his dribble or passing
out of double-teams to the 6-8 Palacios, who was routinely open
behind the 3-point line.

Garcia, from the Dominican Republic, and Palacios, from
Colombia, flustered the Horned Frogs even more by using Spanish to
communicate.

"It's great to play with him," said Palacios, who finished
8-of-12 from the field. "One time, I'm like, 'Pass the ball, man.
You're going to score more than me.' We've got a good connection."

Palacios sank three 3-pointers and had 15 points in the first
half; Garcia went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line and had 13
points in the opening 20 minutes.

Aaron Curtis scored underneath with 14:28 left in the second
half to cut Louisville's lead to 11 and prompt a timeout from
Pitino. The Cardinals responded with a 10-0 run and Larry
O'Bannon's third 3-pointer pushed the lead to 61-40 with 10:59
remaining.

Pitino started pulling his starters near the 5-minute mark and
the bench was all smiles -- even Dean, who stretched out on the
floor when he left the game.

"We were ready to get after it and that was a good thing to
see," Dean said. "after that loss (to Houston), we could've
easily hung our heads."

Nile Murry had 15 points and eight rebounds for TCU (10-5, 0-1),
which had a four-game winning streak snapped.

TCU dropped to 1-46 in road games against Top 25 opponents.