Scores

Final

Delaware State 54

(21-14, 16-2 MEAC)

Louisville 71

(19-12, 6-10 Big East)

7:00 PM ET, March 17, 2006

1 2 T
DSU 23 3154
LOU 34 3771

Top Performers

Delaware State: T. Worley 18 Pts, 1 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Louisville: T. Dean 21 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

Louisville 71, Delaware State 54

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino wasn't asking for perfection from his players on Friday night against Delaware State in the National Invitation Tournament, just a little emotion.

In a way, Pitino got both.

Taquan Dean scored 21 points and the Cardinals placed five players in double figures in a 71-54 victory over the Hornets. Louisville (19-12), with a little help from a surprisingly exuberant Freedom Hall crowd, raced to an early lead and never looked back.

The Cardinals will host Clemson in the second round on Monday.

"Our guys responded like there was a lot at stake, which there is," Pitino said. "I'm really excited about the way we played basketball tonight. We did a lot of good things."

After struggling through a difficult Big East Conference schedule, the Cardinals seemed happy to play an opponent without the name Villanova, Connecticut or Pittsburgh on the front of their jerseys.

Brandon Jenkins scored 13 points for Louisville, which shot 50 percent from the floor for just the fifth time this season. Dean admitted initially it was tough for the Cardinals to deal with the emotional letdown of not getting into the NCAA tournament a year after making it to the Final Four.

"You can say after the loss in New York (in the Big East Tournament) we were a little disappointed," Dean said. "But we put our heads together and realizing we have the opportunity to win some type of championship. You work that hard in the offseason and come away with nothing, it felt like it was a waste of time. We still have a championship game to shoot for, so we're going to do that."

A weary Delaware State (21-14), whose 25 games at road or neutral sites this season included trips to UCLA, Michigan, Wichita State and Maryland, simply didn't have the firepower to keep up with the Cardinals.

Tracey Worley led the Hornets with 18 points, but the MEAC regular-season champions couldn't get Louisville to play along when they tried to slow things down.

The Hornets entered the game allowing just 57 points per game, fifth-best in the nation, by milking the clock on offense and making every possession count. But that plan fell by the wayside after the Cardinals ripped off the game's first 12 points.

"It's so hard being down 12-14 points the way we play," Delaware State coach Greg Jackson said. "We are not a team that is going to come back from that type of deficit. We played catch-up the whole ball game."

Center Terrance Farley added a career-high 12 points for Louisville, which played to an enthusiastic if less than full house.

About 14,000 fans showed up, almost 5,000 less than the Cardinals averaged during the regular season but more than double the average attendance for an opening-round NIT game.

Two more wins and the Cardinals will make it to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden, the site of perhaps their season's two lowest points -- a loss to St. John's in January and a loss against Pittsburgh in the opening round of the Big East tournament.

"We pulled two clunkers in New York, two halves, the second half against St. John's and the first half against Pitt," Pitino said. "This is an opportunity to play great and get to New York again. I think (we) did have a sense of relief (tonight) because the Big East season was a flat-out war."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DSU
LOU
Points 54 71
FG Made-Attempted 19-46 (.413) 25-50 (.500)
3P Made-Attempted 8-23 (.348) 10-23 (.435)
FT Made-Attempted 8-14 (.571) 11-13 (.846)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 15 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
Largest Lead 0 21

Series

DATEGAMELINKS
» Mar 17, 2006 @LOU 71, DSU 54Recap