LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Juan Palacios caught the ball in the
lane, then flicked a behind-the-back pass to Louisville teammate
Brian Johnson, who hit a reverse layup and drew the foul.
Minutes later, guard Terrence Williams grabbed an outlet pass
from Taquan Dean, dribbled the ball around his body, crashed into
Akron's Zach Sowers and still managed to hang in the air long
enough to make the basket.Standing in front of the Louisville bench, coach Rick Pitino
couldn't help but smile. How could he not? During Louisville's
111-85 rout of the Zips on Saturday, Pitino thinks he might have
seen his real team for the first time all year."I thought all our guys were terrific," Pitino said. "We're
pulling it together. We see the potential. This was by far our best
game of the year."Dean led five Cardinals in double figures, scoring 22 points as
Louisville posted its highest point total at home since 1999. The
Cardinals (5-0) shot 60 percent from the floor -- including 71
percent in the second half -- to prevent the Zips (3-2) from beating
a ranked team for the first time in school history.Romeo Travis led Akron with 21 points, but the Zips had no
answer for the balanced and unselfish Cardinals. Louisville had 31
assists on 40 field goals and turned the ball over only nine times."No matter what we played, we couldn't guard them," said Akron
coach Keith Dambrot. "We didn't get it done. We couldn't keep them
in front of us, we couldn't keep them off the boards, we couldn't
keep them out of transition."The Cardinals had relied heavily on Dean during an ugly 53-45
win over Richmond on Monday. By the time Dean got rolling in the
second half against the Zips, Palacios and center David Padgett
already had given the Cardinals a double-digit lead.Akron managed to stick around in the first half and trailed
46-37 at the break. But Louisville opened the second half with a
15-6 run and quickly pulled away."Once everybody got together and got going, this is what I
expected," Dean said. "[Palacios] is starting to get better and
once we get David [Padgett] going, the sky is the limit."Palacios, still recovering from a dislocated ankle, continued to
improve, finishing with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists."Palacios played really well, I couldn't believe some of the
passes he made," Padgett said. "It looked like the old Palacios.
It's good to see him passing the ball like that."Padgett had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Williams posted
a season-high 13 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the floor.
Five days after facing Richmond's grind-it-out offense, the
Cardinals were eager to race up and down the floor with the uptempo
Zips."When you get to run like that, it makes you look good,"
Padgett said. "I thought we did a great job of sharing the
basketball, giving it up to everybody."Darryl Peterson scored 16 points for the Zips and Nick Dials
added 12, but Akron couldn't keep up with the Cardinals, who scored
40 points in the first 12 minutes of the second half."We just didn't have it," Dambrot said. "They shot the ball
well, but we gave them too many easy baskets."