LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The nation's most unexpected undefeated
team isn't much on style.
Good thing, because there wasn't much to go around during No. 12
Pittsburgh's 61-57 win over No. 10 Louisville on Sunday.
The Panthers shot just 38 percent from the field, battled foul
trouble and allowed the inexperienced and injury-riddled Cardinals
three potential game-winning shots in the final 30 seconds.
"It wasn't our prettiest game," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon
said. "It was tough and we battled through."
The Panthers (14-0, 3-0 Big East) are one of three unbeaten
teams remaining in Division I, along with top-ranked Duke (16-0)
and No. 2 Florida (16-0). And while the Panthers lack Duke's
pedigree and Florida's buzz, they do have the kind of depth that
makes them a difficult matchup.
Nine Panthers played at least 11 minutes against the Cardinals
(13-3, 1-2), who wore down in the second half, allowing a
seven-point lead to slip away. Louisville is winless in three games
against Top 25 opponents.
"We hang in there with some pretty good basketball teams,"
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "(But) there is no substitute
for experience. Young teams don't win against good teams."
Freshman reserve guard Levance Fields scored 13 points to lead
five Panthers with at least eight points and center Aaron Gray
added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers, who are 14-0 for
the second time in three seasons under Dixon.
"Our bench is strong, we just try to wear teams down, playing
so many different people so many different minutes," Fields said.
"We just try to keep fresh bodies in and get them down."
Despite holding Pittsburgh guard Carl Krauser to eight points on
3-of-10 shooting, the Cardinals simply couldn't match the Panther's
size and depth.
The Panthers outrebounded Louisville 39-34 and their reserves
outscored Louisville's 30-5. Pittsburgh's 13 offensive rebounds led
to 13 second-chance points.
Forward Terrence Williams scored a career-high 25 points for
Louisville, but had little help from his teammates in the second
"That was a very physical game," Pitino said. "We allowed
them to push us around on the glass. This isn't (Conference USA),
this is a football league in a basketball league."
Louisville guard Taquan Dean played just 12 minutes, bothered by
an ankle injury he re-aggravated late in the first half.
His only field goal -- an off-balance 3-pointer from 25 feet --
pulled the Cardinals within 59-57 with a minute to play.
"He's playing on one leg," Pitino said of Dean.
Pittsburgh's Levon Kendall missed an 18-footer as the shot clock
wound down, and Louisville's Juan Palacios got open for two
3-pointers that would have given the Cardinals the lead. He missed
the second badly and Krauser grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
Krauser missed both free throws, but Dean's 3-pointer from the
top of the key fell off the rim, and Gray grabbed the rebound to
keep the Panthers perfect.
"I thought it was good, it just didn't fall," Dean said.
The Cardinals had struggled in their previous two games against
ranked teams, never leading in losses to Kentucky and Villanova.
But Louisville managed to grab a 26-25 halftime lead even with
their leading scorer struggling. Dean didn't get off a shot in 7
minutes before apparently re-injuring his ankle and hobbling off
the court with 4:20 to play in the half.
The Panthers, in their first real road test of the season, had
their own problems. Krauser missed all five of his shots from the
field, and he and Gray both ran into foul trouble. Pittsburgh
remained in the game by dominating the glass and getting plenty of
production off the bench.
Fields and Sam Young combined for 14 points in the half, and the
Panthers grabbed nine offensive rebounds to offset 29 percent
Still, Louisville led by as many as eight points thanks to
6-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.
Led by an array of 3-pointers and acrobatic drives to the basket
by Williams, the Cardinals took a 39-32 lead with 13:09 to play.
The Panthers responded with a 17-6 run. Gray, Fields and Krauser
all hit big shots down the stretch.
"There were different guys stepping up making plays," Dixon
said. "It wasn't just Carl or Aaron. ... We got the ball to the
right spots and eventually good things happened."