Cardinals hand Scarlet Knights seventh straight loss

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Any concerns of a Louisville letdown were dispelled in the first half against Rutgers.

Coming off a victory over then-No. 1 Pittsburgh, the Cardinals (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) scored 23 straight in the first half and went on to a 78-59 victory on Wednesday night.

Terrence Williams had 23 points, 11 rebounds and four steals in Louisville's sixth straight victory. For Rutgers (9-10, 0-6 Big East), it was the Scarlet Knights' seventh straight loss, six coming against ranked teams.

"It's just maturity," said Williams, who shot 9-for-14 and is shooting over 51 percent during the winning streak. "We just have to come out and approach every game with heart, going hard and just playing defense."

The Cardinals (14-3, 5-0), who moved into a first place tie with Marquette, got 15 points apiece from Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels and 10 from Edgar Sosa.

Mike Rosario had 21 points for Rutgers. Gregory Echenique, Samuels' high school teammate last year, had 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

After Rutgers took its only lead at 7-5, Louisville scored 23 straight while holding the Knights scoreless for 9:54. Rutgers shot 0-for-11 and committed seven turnovers, while the Cardinals shot 9-for-11 with four dunks.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino called timeout immediately after Rosario's 3-pointer ended the run with 5:40 left in the half.

"He wanted to remind us, 'Don't let up, we have to keep applying pressure,'" Williams said. "He's always telling us step on their necks when we got 'em down, so we wanted to keep applying pressure. We know that they're good at coming back when they're down by a lot."

During the drought, Rutgers coach Fred Hill was so frustrated with his team's transition defense that he inserted five new players after a stoppage with 9:36 remaining.

"We missed a ton of easy shots inside," Hill said. "We got some good looks and didn't knock them down. I wasn't pleased with our defensive effort overall.

"It was really our transition D that was the problem. They got out on that run and took advantage of our misses and converted some easy baskets," he said.

Louisville expanded its lead by as much as 23 and held Rutgers to a season-low in first-half points while taking a 40-20 advantage.

The Scarlet Knights got within 52-39 with over 12 minutes remaining before Louisville scored five straight and was not threatened again.

Louisville shot 59.2 percent for the game and held Rutgers to 38.6 percent. The Scarlet Knights were the 10th team to shoot under 40 percent against the Cardinals this season and the fourth in the last five games to shoot under 39 percent.

"We're on a roll right now, we have to keep it up and not get too bigheaded," Williams said. "We just have to stick to our defensive schemes. Our trap is our main thing that works, we just have to stay with that. [Guards] Preston Knowles and Andre McGee are dogs on the ball so that helps a lot as far as ball pressure."

Rutgers lost guard Anthony Farmer with a wrist injury in the first half, but Hill was unsure of the extent of the injury.