54 - 68 Final
  for this game

Slaughter shines as Western Kentucky stuns Louisville

Dec 1, 2008 - 2:35 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- A.J. Slaughter noticed Louisville was a little too loose in pregame warmups, then made the third-ranked Cardinals pay for overlooking his very capable team.

Slaughter scored a career-high 25 points, helping Western Kentucky stun its in-state rival Louisville, 68-54, on Sunday.

Steffphon Pettigrew had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Hilltoppers (3-2), who beat a top-three team for the first time in 40 years. The Hilltoppers beat Indiana, 110-98, in 1967.

It also was the program's biggest regular-season win since knocking off then-No. 4 Kentucky in 2001.

"I think they came out thinking that they were going to beat us and that they were overlooking us," Slaughter said. "The swagger that they had told me that they didn't think they had to come out and compete and that they thought they were better than us.

"I told the guys before the game that I didn't think they were ready to play, and that we needed to come out and throw the first punch so they wouldn't know what hit them. I knew if we did that then we could win this game."

It was a memorable win for first-year coach Ken McDonald, who, as a native of Providence, used to sneak into practices to watch Rick Pitino's Friars teams of the 1980s.

"It was very surreal shaking hands with coach Pitino before the game because I grew up around him when he took Providence to the Final Four," McDonald said.

"I was sitting there hoping that this game didn't come down to coaching. The players made plays and this game was all about the players."

Pitino's Cardinals (2-1) wasted a huge effort from Terrence Williams, who is recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the offseason. The do-everything senior forward had a season-high of 19 points and nine rebounds.

Williams was pretty much the entire offense for the Cardinals. Talented freshman Samardo Samuels was held to just 10 points and Louisville shot just 26 percent (15-of-56) from the floor.

Samuels had been making it look easy, averaging 21 points in his first two games. Western Kentucky's double teams helped negate the 6-8, 240-pound Samuel, though, and the duo of Slaughter and Pettigrew did the rest.

"He is such a hard matchup because he has the combination of quickness and strength," McDonald said of Samuels.

"He is very aggressive and he is just really impressive to watch. We went small and that has been the philosophy for us the past couple of games and it has been good to us. I knew that Steffphon would battle with him and he definitely battled."

The Hilltoppers, who won the Sun Belt tournament and advanced to the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Tournament last season, took control with a 10-2 run midway through the second half.

Pettigrew capped the decisive run with a jumper that made it 49-40 with 8:01 to play.

Williams hit a 3-pointer to cut Louisville's deficit to 55-48 with 5:44 remaining, but Pettigrew answered with a jumper and Slaughter hit another to make it a seven-point lead with 3:35 left. The Cardinals never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.

The Cardinals missed their first eight shots, preventing them from getting into their full-court press. A 7-0 spurt toward the end of the first half put Louisville up, 28-24, with 23 seconds left in the opening session.

The Hilltoppers came back right before the break, as Sergio Kerusch hit a free throw and Slaughter tied it at 28-28 with a 25-footer at the buzzer.

Earl Clark had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Louisville, which was facing Western Kentucky for the first time in five years.

The Cardinals, who own a 38-34 edge in the all-time series, were just 6-of-30 from beyond the arc.

"It was a very disappointing performance from our guys," Pitino said. "You have to give Western Kentucky credit, they did great. ... Unfortunately for us, we had the worst week of practice that I've experienced as a head coach. You don't like to learn your lessons from losing, but the way we practiced, we didn't deserve to win."