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Clark helps Louisville fend off Mississippi

Dec 19, 2008 - 4:48 AM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- Earl Clark had 25 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to go with six blocks as ninth-ranked Louisville held off pesky Mississippi, 77-68, in a SEC/Big East Challenge contest on Thursday.

Freshman Samardo Samuels added nine points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinals (7-1), who won their fifth straight game.

The contest was tied late in the game when Clark scored a layup and Edgar Sosa followed with a 3-pointer to give Louisville a 72-67 lead with 4:15 remaining.

Mississippi went ice-cold down the stretch, missing its final eight shots from the field, as Louisville ended the game on a 10-1 run. Louisville's final five points came on free throws.

Rebels coach Andy Kennedy guided the Rebels despite news of his arrest for misdemeanor assault early Thursday morning. Kennedy allegedly punched a cab driver and shouted racial slurs at him, both of which he has vehemently denied.

Clark scored 17 points in the first 7:35 of the game and keyed a 14-0 burst as the Cardinals opened up a 26-10 lead with 11:14 left in the half.

Louisville started to cool off and Mississippi ended the first half on a 16-3 run - capped by Chris Warren's 3-pointer from well beyond the arc - to close within 38-34 at the break.

Mississippi cut the deficit to one point on three different occasions, but Louisville started to separate itself with six straight points to push the lead up to 52-45 with 13:47 remaining.

The Cardinals went up by as many as 10 but the Rebels fought back as David Huertas scored the first 12 points during a 17-6 run to give Mississippi a 63-62 advantage with 7:31 to play.

Louisville went back up by four before Mississippi tied the game at 67-67 on Warren's 3-pointer with 5:28 left. It would be the Rebels' last basket of the game.

Huertas finished with 20 points and Warren had 18 to lead Mississippi (7-4).