Louisville takes apart No. 5 PittFeb 13, 2007 - 5:03 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Louisville needed a signature win and got it in resounding fashion.
David Padgett scored 16 points and the Cardinals were in control the whole way, snapping the fifth-ranked Panthers' five-game winning streak with a 66-53 Big East Conference victory.
Louisville (18-8, 8-4 Big East) beat a ranked opponent for the first time in five attempts this season while handing Pittsburgh its worst home loss in the five-year history of the Petersen Events Center.
"That was a great win for a young basketball team," Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said. "We had to, at this point in the season, play Pitt or someone like Pitt because everyone's talking about signature wins. I was kidding with the guys, 'Look if you want to dance, you have to play Pitt and you've got to beat them.'
"They are a great basketball team in all phases of the game. They've got experience, they're well coached, they're well drilled, they don't turn it over. I said, 'You've got to take it away because they're not going to give it to you.' "
That's just what the Cardinals did in seizing control from the outset, spotting the Panthers (22-4, 10-2) a 2-0 lead before running off 13 consecutive points. Louisville never let Pitt get the lead under double digits thereafter.
Dominating in all facets of the game, the Cardinals forced a season-high 19 turnovers by the Panthers while limited them to 35 percent shooting, including a miserable 3-of-21 from 3-point range.
"I didn't think we would make some of the turnovers that we made tonight; that was something that I didn't really recognize," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "They played very well and we didn't."
Pittsburgh had never lost by double digits at the Petersen Events Center, with a 73-64 defeat to Connecticut on February 26, 2005, accounting for the most lopsided loss.
Louisville's largest first-half lead was 33-14 on a 3-pointer by Jerry Smith en route to a 36-19 cushion at the break. The Cardinals led by 20 points before the Panthers scored the final seven points of the game to make it look respectable.
Padgett's status for the game was uncertain after he sprained his foot in Saturday's victory over South Florida. But the 6-11 junior outplayed Wooden Award candidate Aaron Gray, who picked up his fourth foul with 14:06 to play and wasn't much of a factor.
Hitting 7-of-13 shots from the floor, Padgett helped Louisville outscore Pittsburgh in the paint, 42-16.
"They have good big guys," Gray said. "David Padgett played really well, Derrick Caracter came in and gave them great minutes off the bench. They capitalized on second shots.
"If we play like that, we'll lose every game. We just didn't have it tonight. I'm not going to say guys didn't play hard because they definitely did. We didn't take them lightly but at the same time, they came out here and they outplayed us. You have to give them a lot of credit."
Padgett converted a three-point play to boost the lead to 50-32 midway through the second half. The Panthers finally showed signed of life as Ronald Ramon and Antonio Graves hit from the arc to close the deficit to 56-44 with 5:44 left.
The Cardinals answered with a 10-2 run to balloon the margin to 20 points.
"We wanted to do three things," Pitino said. "We wanted to be even on the backboards, shut down the 3-point line and we wanted to create offensive spacing where they couldn't dig or trap us in the low post, and the guys did a good job of that."
Gray finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Pitt, which suffered just its second loss in 14 games.
"Even when we did things right they didn't seem go the way we wanted them to go," Dixon said. "When you're down 17 at halftime, you've got to do some things that really put you in a tough situation."
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