Cardinals beat Bearcats for eighth straight win

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- At the end of Louisville's 77-70 win over
Cincinnati on Wednesday night, Juan Palacios happily hopped near
midcourt, still buzzing over the biggest shot of his career.

The freshman forward from Colombia scored 17 points and banked
in an unlikely 3-pointer to seal the Cardinals' eighth straight

"I didn't call it, but thank God it went in," said Palacios,
who had made only 16 3-pointers all season coming into the game.

Taquan Dean scored 19 points to lead No. 9 Louisville (19-3, 7-1
Conference USA), which has won 13 of 14 and six of its last 10
meetings with Cincinnati.

"That was a heavyweight fight and we got the last punch," Dean

The Cardinals led 68-64 entering the final 90 seconds of a game
that was dominated by the top two field-goal percentage defenses in
Conference USA.

With the shot clock ticking under 10 seconds, Louisville guard
Brandon Jenkins got caught in a double team near halfcourt.
Palacios came to help and when Jenkins leaped and passed him the
ball, Palacios turned and hit the straight-on bank shot from five
feet behind the 3-point line.

"I knew it was good the whole way," joked Louisville coach
Rick Pitino.

"That's just lucky, lucky Tello from Colombia," said
Louisville senior center Ellis Myles, calling Palacios by his

Palacios also banked in a 3-pointer in the Cardinals' 105-69 win
over Tulane on Saturday. This time, he got some urging from Pitino.

"Coach P was saying, 'Shoot the ball! Shoot the ball!' I knew I
was far from the basket," Palacios said. "I didn't even have time
to think about it."

Louisville went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final
minute to keep No. 18 Cincinnati at bay.

"That was a very good win," said Francisco Garcia, who was
held to 11 points, six below his average. "I'm very proud of my
teammates. We're getting better every day."

Eric Hicks matched a career high with 21 points to lead
Cincinnati (17-4, 6-2), which was swept by Louisville for the first
time since 1988.

Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins was pleased with his team's
performance, but harped on the Bearcats' 20-of-31 shooting from the
free-throw line. The Bearcats also missed 11 free throws in an
87-68 win over Houston on Saturday.

"We need guys to step up and make plays," Huggins said. "I
think they should throw it out of bounds instead of missing free
throws. You are going to miss some, but we need to make more than
we are making now."

Cincinnati missed 13 of their first 18 shots in the opening 10
minutes, but trailed only 15-12 because of seven Louisville

Louisville led 25-24 when a 3-pointer by Dean started a 7-0

Palacios' steal and a fast-break layup in the first minute of
the second half gave Louisville its biggest lead at 40-31.

James White then scored in the lane to trigger a 9-0 Bearcats'

The Cardinals rebuilt a four-point lead, but Garcia,
Louisville's leading scorer, got his fourth foul and left the game
with 9:48 remaining. The Bearcats couldn't take advantage, though,
going four minutes without a field goal.

Without Garcia, Dean became Louisville's go-to guy and sank two
3-pointers to push the lead to 64-55. Garcia returned with 3:59
left and the Cardinals ahead 66-60, but he fouled out a minute
later, clipping Armein Kirkland's arm on a layup. Kirkland hit two
free throws to trim Cincinnati's deficit to 67-64.

A free throw by Jenkins with 2:08 remaining put the Cardinals up

The Bearcats had their chances to come back, but never shook
their poor shooting, going 23-of-61 from the field (38 percent) and
4-of-18 from 3-point range (22 percent).

The Cardinals also generated 24 points off 17 Cincinnati

"We know we have to be an excellent defensive team against them
to win and we played excellent defense tonight," Pitino said. "We
kept saying the best defensive team is going to win this game."