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Nolen helps Minnesota upend Louisville

Dec 21, 2008 - 12:43 AM GLENDALE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Tubby Smith has led Minnesota to its best start in 32 years - and he did so by beating a familiar foe.

Al Nolen had 18 points and six rebounds, leading Minnesota to a 70-64 victory over No. 9 Louisville on Saturday in the 2008 Stadium Shootout at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Blake Hoffarber had 15 points off the bench and Travis Busch added 13 for Minnesota (10-0), which is off to its best start since winning its first 11 games in 1976-77.

The game was the first half of the Stadium Shootout doubleheader. No. 17 Arizona State beat Brigham Young in the nightcap.

Smith, who succeeded Rick Pitino as head coach at Kentucky, beat his friend and improved to 7-4 vs. Louisville all-time. Minnesota hit 27-of-37 from the free-throw line. Nolen led the way, finishing 13-of-17 from the stripe.

Nolen also added five rebounds and five assists.

Terrence Williams had 17 points for Pitino's Cardinals (7-2), who have lost six of their last eight games at neutral sites. Earl Clark had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Louisville.

The Gophers got 10 points from Nolen in the first half and grabbed a 38-33 lead after 20 minutes.

Minnesota opened the second half on a 12-4 run and took a 50-37 lead on a jumper by Ralph Sampson III with 12:20 remaining.

Hoffarber came off the bench to hit back-to-back 3-pointers as Minnesota opened a 56-44 lead with eight minutes.

The Cardinals cut the deficit to four in the final minutes before the Gophers salted the game away by hitting 13 of their last 15 free throws.

Louisville went 9:31 without a field goal in the second half and shot only 37 percent from the floor (20-of-53). The Cardinals, who entered averaging 79.8 points, also hit just 4-of-17 from beyond the arc.