CINCINNATI (AP) -- David Padgett scored 18 points and intimidated Cincinnati's smaller front line into missing or passing up shots Wednesday night, leading Louisville to a 69-53 victory that extended the Cardinals' midseason run.
Louisville (16-6, 6-2 Big East) has won four of its last five against Cincinnati. The Cardinals improved to 5-9 on the Bearcats' current home court, the most victories by any visiting team.After a slow start to the season, the Cardinals' inexperienced lineup has gotten healthy and gained maturity, running off 11 wins in their last 13 games. The Cardinals have already matched their Big East victory total from last season.By contrast, the rebuilding Bearcats (10-11, 1-6) keep falling. They haven't had a losing record so deep into a season since 1987-88, when they were 9-12 under coach Tony Yates.Once again, Cincinnati couldn't figure out how to slow down a dominant front-line player.The 6-foot-11 Padgett fought through double-team coverage to get off his right-handed hook shot. He made eight of his first nine shots, and had a putback off his only miss, while Louisville pulled ahead by 21 points. Padgett also had 12 rebounds, helping Louisville dominate up front.The Bearcats were so unnerved by Padgett's long arms that they repeatedly passed up short jumpers, keeping the ball on the perimeter. Forward John Williamson, the Bearcats' leading front-line scorer, went 0-for-5 from the field and failed to score. The Bearcats shot only 31 percent from the field.Padgett has been a key to the Cardinals' surge, getting better as he recovers from knee surgery last March. Padgett has reached double figures in points and rebounds in two of his last three games.Marvin Gentry scored 22 points for Cincinnati, which failed to score in the first 5 minutes and the last 5 minutes of the opening half.With Padgett denying shots inside, Louisville opened the game with an 11-0 run. Cincinnati missed its first seven shots and had three turnovers, a slump that finally ended on Deonta Vaughn's floating jumper with 14:18 left in the half. Vaughn finished with 18 points.The focus on Padgett inside left the Cardinals with open 3-point shots. They missed 10 of their first 11, allowing Cincinnati to cut the lead to 21-19 with 5:47 left. The Bearcats didn't score again before halftime.Louisville made four consecutive 3s for a 33-19 halftime lead, and Padgett helped the Cardinals extend the lead to 21 points early in the second half with his assortment of inside shots.Cincinnati got the lead down to 60-50 with 2:34 to go. The comeback ended when Cincinnati missed its next two shots, and Louisville's Terrence Williams made a 25-footer just before the shot clock ran out.