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No. 4 Louisville downs Memphis to stay undefeated

Dec 18, 2011 - 5:30 AM Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Russ Smith finished with 24 points and seven steals, while center Gorgui Dieng had a big game defensively to help No. 4 Louisville get past Memphis, 95-87, and stay undefeated.

Dieng ended with 14 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks for the Cardinals (10-0), who hadn't begun a season with 10 consecutive wins since 1996-97. Peyton Siva had 13 points and nine assists in the victory.

"I thought most of the time we were playing great defense," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "It's very tough because we are a young team. They were trying to penetrate and we were forced to help, and then the guy who had to help then circled for a three. They had a good strategy and they are a very tough team to play against."

Will Barton poured in 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the Tigers. Joe Jackson added 22 points, but the pair's offense wasn't enough to keep Memphis (5-4) from losing a second straight game.

The Tigers overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to take the lead in the second half, and were up 58-55 after Jackson converted a three-point play with 11 minutes to go.

But Rakeem Buckles followed with a free throw and three-pointer for Louisville, and the Cardinals didn't trail again. Memphis did stay close and tied the game multiple times, including when Barton's layup made it a 70-70 contest with under seven minutes left.

However, Louisville scored the next eight points, capped by a Kyle Kuric dunk, to create some distance.

It was too much of a margin for the Tigers to overcome. Antonio Barton's three-pointer with just more than a minute left pulled Memphis within 87-81, but the Tigers wasted a few chances to get closer.

Tarik Black missed two free throws, and after Will Barton grabbed the offensive rebound, Chris Crawford turned the ball over. Kuric stole the ball and ran to the other end for a dunk, which made it an 89-81 contest and effectively secured the victory for Louisville.

"We made some adjustments in the second half," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "We went zone. I thought our zone was good. You have to give Louisville credit. They hit a couple of threes that were at some key times."

In a close first half, Louisville pulled ahead late. Chris Smith followed a Dieng dunk with two foul shots for a 31-22 advantage, and the Cardinals carried a 42-32 lead into the break.

But Memphis started to close the gap early in the second half. After Barton sank two free throws, Jackson scored the next five points to bring the Tigers within 47-41.

Shortly thereafter, Memphis went on an 11-2 run that Jackson ended with his three-point play.

Game Notes

Louisville owns a 52-34 advantage in the all-time series with Memphis, and has won the last three meetings...The Cardinals shot just 40 percent, but made 32- of-40 free throws...Memphis made only 67.4 percent (29-of-43) of its foul shots.