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Knowles' second-half surge powers Louisville past UNLV

Dec 11, 2010 - 9:17 PM Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Preston Knowles scored all 20 of his points in the second half, leading 24th-ranked Louisville to a 77-69 victory over No. 20 UNLV at the KFC Yum! Center.

Kyle Kuric made five three-pointers en route to 17 points for the Cardinals (8-0), who have played every game this season at their new home. Chris Smith also scored 17 points with six rebounds in the win.

"We beat a tremendous basketball team," said Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. "We have been preparing for them for a long time. They pressure, and they force turnovers better than anyone else in the country."

Tre'Von Willis had 17 points to pace the Runnin' Rebels (9-1), who were off to their best start since the 1990-91 team won its first 34 games before losing to Duke in the Final Four.

Oscar Bellfield nailed a three-pointer to push UNLV's lead to 45-36 early in the second half, but Louisville countered with an 11-2 burst to pull even at 47 with just under 14 minutes remaining.

A Justin Hawkins layup gave UNLV its final lead of the game at 51-49. Knowles knocked down a trey to ignite a 19-6 run to stretch the Cardinals' advantage to double digits. Knowles then hit a jumper to give Louisville its largest lead of the game at 70-57 with a little over three minutes left in regulation.

"They made a run, and we didn't handle it very well," said UNLV head coach Lon Kruger. "They got a little momentum from that. When you're on the road especially, you have to try to curb those runs from the home team. We didn't do a very good job of slowing their runs down."

UNLV raced out to a 9-2 lead as Louisville missed each of its first eight shots from the field. Down 12-5, the Cardinals scored eight unanswered points, and Louisville led by four at 22-18 after Kuric nailed a shot from beyond the arc with about seven minutes remaining.

The Runnin' Rebels, though, closed out the half on an 8-1 run to carry a 38-33 lead into the break.

Game Notes

Louisville improved its record to 8-0 for the first time since beginning the 1996-97 campaign with 10 straight wins...Peyton Siva totaled nine points and seven assists for Louisville...Bellfield finished with 16 points and five rebounds...UNLV shot 46.7 percent from the field for the game...The Cardinals made 54.2 percent of their shots in the second half, compared to 32.4 percent in the opening 20 minutes.