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    Louisville Basketball Keeps It Together Long Enough to Beat UNCW 68-57
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    Just in time for the 13th annual Billy Minardi Classic, University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino found himself facing another protege. That’s not hard when you consider he has 11 former aides as active NCAA Division I head coaches. It was close and the Cards (9-0) sneaked out with the win against the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 68-57.

    The game was hard fought throughout but it didn’t seem that Louisville brought its big boy game. Sloppy passes, failure to crash the boards and misses from wide open shooters contributed to a poor U of L performance.

    Former Cardinal associate head coach Kevin Keatts took the helm at UNCM at the beginning of this season and is now a respectable 3-3. He comes into the game fully understanding the significance of the game which started in 2002 in memory of Pitino’s brother-in-law Billy Minardi who died in the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.

    It was like in the NCAA tournament when Manhattan played the Cards close with former assistant Steve Masiello at the helm in that one. This time, though, Keatts and his team were able to take advantage of miscues all over the court.

    At the half, the Cards held the Seahawks to 33.3% from the field (38.7% for the game). Louisville never broke away though and went into halftime leading 32-24. They wouldn’t break away for the balance of the game. In fact, UNCW brought it to within 2 late in the second half.

    Montrezl Harrell showed the way again with his fifth consecutive double-double: 19 points and an astonishing 17 rebounds. He also took home the MVP award. Wayne Blackshear nearly notched one himself with 11 points and 8 boards. Terry Rozier contributed another 19 points.

    The Cardinal bench didn’t score many points and not many played either. Considering the level of competition, you had to think that Louisville wanted to put more guys in the game as they approach the teeth of their schedule. Game experience helps the younger Cards but it wasn’t to come Sunday night.

    Coach Pitino didn’t care for how his team played in any facet of the game. He congratulated Coach Keatts for how UNCM made the Cards look bad. Shortly afterward, he saw a bit of blue sky by saying the egos in the locker room were cut down to size. He likes to say ego stands for “edging greatness out.”

    The team got the message.

    Next for the Cardinals is a Saturday showdown at Western Kentucky at noon. The then come back to the KFC Yum! Center Tuesday, December 23, for Cal State Northridge at 7p.m.

    Photos by: Tim Girton/Louisville.com

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at Louisville.com and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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