LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Locked in another tight game with
Tennessee, Louisville turned to its star.
And Francisco Garcia delivered, scoring 20 points and keying a
24-2 second-half spurt in an 85-62 victory Saturday.
"I'm always confident," said Garcia. "I said, 'I need to step
up and be the leader.' My teammates were looking for me."
Garcia had seven points, two rebounds and two assists during the
9-minute run, which started with No. 14 Louisville down 53-50.
"I knew we were going to come back. We play great at home,"
said Garcia, who finished with nine rebounds and four assists.
The Cardinals (16-3) have won 10 of 11 games since a 60-58 loss
to Kentucky on Dec. 18.
"We are playing better basketball," Louisville coach Rick
Pitino said. "We are doing the little things better, pressing
better and pressing more intelligently."
Louisville and Tennessee ended a four-game series Saturday. The
Cardinals won the previous three by a total of seven points.
This one looked as if it was going down to the wire, too.
Neither team led by more than five until Garcia's 3-pointer from
the wing with 8:02 left put the Cardinals up 62-55.
"I've just got so much energy," George said. "Sometimes, the
coach tells me I have to slow down."
The Vols went five minutes without a field goal, totally
collapsing after a 3-pointer by Chris Lofton, a former Kentucky
high school standout, gave them a 53-50 lead with 13:16 left.
The Vols shot 50 percent in the first half and 33 percent in the
"When a team shoots 33 percent in the second half, that's
defense," Myles said.
Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson admitted he erred by not getting
more rest for the starters as the second half unfolded. Four of
five starters logged more than 30 minutes.
"We just ran out of gas," he said.
Tennessee's fifth starter, 6-10 center Brandon Crump, scored the
Vols' first two baskets, then sprained his left ankle two minutes
into the game. The team's leading rebounder and second-leading
scorer did not return.
"It was really devastating," Lofton said. "We missed him a
lot and it showed."
Lofton had 15 points to lead Tennessee (10-8).
The lead changed seven times in a fast-paced opening 10 minutes.
A dunk by Juan Palacios and a baseline jumper by Garcia put the
Cardinals up 24-19.
The Vols went six minutes without a field goal, but stayed close
by going 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Pitino drew a technical foul from referee Gerald Boudreaux with
0.5 seconds left in the half and Lofton sank four free throws to
trim the Vols' deficit to 38-37 at the break.
But seconds after Lofton gave the Vols their last lead, O'Bannon
sank a 3-pointer and Louisville's defense came alive, forcing the
Vols into turnovers and bad shots the rest of the way.
"We talked about having our run," Pitino said. "We expected
our run to come at home and we fed off each other."
Louisville has won eight of 10 games against Southeastern
Conference teams since Pitino arrived in 2001.