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Knowles explodes in second half to lift Louisville

Dec 13, 2008 - 9:45 PM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Preston Knowles caught fire just in time to help No. 10 Louisville avoid another early season upset.

Knowles scored 18 of his career-high 21 points off the bench in the second half as the Cardinals pulled away for a 94-75 victory over Austin Peay on Saturday.

Terrence Williams had 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Louisville (6-1), which has won four straight since a shocking loss to Western Kentucky. Freshman Samardo Samuels had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Louisville, which shot 50 percent (33-of-66).

It was not as easy as the final score indicates though, as the Cardinals struggled with the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions before Knowles scored six points during a 14-2 run that put Louisville up, 66-56, with 8:13 to play.

"This is a good basketball team," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.

"You only get to make one run. Probably every team we're going to play from this point on, you're only going to have one or two runs and it's key when you figure your runs are going to happen when Preston and Andre are in the game."

Knowles shot 8-of-11 from the floor and hit all four of his 3-pointers in the second half, including a key shot from the arc after the Cardinals' lead was cut to six points at 68-62 with 7:10 remaining.

Along with coming up with some big shots, Knowles starred on the defensive end, as Pitino credited the sophomore's effort as a big reason Louisville forced 18 turnovers.

"Preston was terrific," Pitino said. "The guys did a very good job - after we turned it over - of attacking the layups against pressure. They played very well and so did we."

Knowles' 3-pointer made it 71-62 and the Governors never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

"Preston's big key, as well as TWill (Williams), is to make open shots," Pitino said. "When he takes open shots, he's an excellent shooter. When he takes challenged shots, that's when our team fails."

Wes Channels had 23 points and Drake Reed added 18 for Austin Peay (5-3), which had its four-game winning streak snapped.

The Governors shot 55 percent (16-of-29) in the first half and trailed, 41-39, after 20 minutes. They had no troubles with the Cardinals' full-court press, breaking it at will for easy scores.

Channels and Anthony Campbell led the way with eight points apiece in the opening stanza.

"It was excellent for 30 minutes," Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said of his game plan.

"We had a plan and they worked the plan. We knew we would see full-court pressure the entire time. I liked the way we attacked it, we were very aggressive and made them guard us 94 feet. We got easy looks as a result of it and we didn't turn it over too much."