No. 20 Louisville 78, Gardner-Webb 49

Louisville coach Rick Pitino gave his starting lineup a makeover

after the 20th-ranked Cardinals were pushed around by Drexel on

Tuesday night.

Pitino benched junior center Terrence Jennings and gave freshman

Gorgui Dieng the first start of his career. The coach’s order was

simple: get after the ball or get off the court.

The Cardinals responded with a 78-49 win over Gardner-Webb on

Saturday in a spirited bounce back performance that helped take

some of the sting out of the disappointing loss to Drexel earlier

in the week.

”More than anything else, we wanted to rebound and act like

junkyard dogs,” Pitino said. ”I wanted everybody to rebound the


That meant everybody, guards included.

Preston Knowles responded with a career-high 24 points and nine

rebounds while Dieng added eight points, 11 rebounds and seven

blocks as the Cardinals (9-1) used a 20-0 first-half run to put

away the overmatched Runnin’ Bulldogs early.

”We wanted to come in with the mentality to get every

rebound,” Knowles said. ”We played great together. If we stay

together, the sky’s the limit.”

Laron Buggs led Gardner-Webb (6-8) with 16 points, but the

Runnin’ Bulldogs couldn’t find the same magic they used three years

ago when they knocked off Kentucky.

Knowles and Dieng made sure of it, keying a dominant defensive

effort that limited Gardner-Webb to 31 percent shooting, blocked 14

shots and came up with seven steals.

”Gorgui tries to be a factor every time down the floor,”

Pitino said. ”Because of his length he can erase a lot of


Not that there were many to go around on Saturday.

Buoyed by the changes Pitino promised were coming after

Louisville was destroyed in the paint by the Dragons on Tuesday,

the Cardinals played with the kind of relentlessness it lacked

against Drexel, which outrebounded Louisville by 20 on its way to a

52-46 win.

Pitino was so incensed by the loss he spent 36 hours stewing

over it, a good 12 hours beyond the window he typically gives


Looking for a spark he put Dieng in the lineup. The 6-foot-10

native of Senegal is struggling to pick up the nuances of the game,

particularly when it comes to knowing where to go on offense.

Yet Pitino didn’t put Dieng in the lineup because of his

offensive skills. Though skinny, Dieng has become adept at using

his massive wingspan to snatch rebounds. He came in averaging 4.0

boards in limited playing time and more than doubled that total in

the first half.

”I don’t think he knows a lot about what he’s doing,” Pitino

said of Dieng. ”He really listens. The most important thing is he

tries to rebound every shot.”

There were plenty of Gardner-Webb misses to go around. The

Runnin’ Bulldogs missed 12 straight shots during Louisville’s big


”Give those guys credit, I thought they played hard and played

together and crushed us on the glass,” Gardner-Webb coach Chris

Holtmann said. ”They were all over the glass. They beat us to

almost every 50-50 ball.”

The Cardinals outrebounded Gardner-Webb 45-26, outscored the

Runnin’ Bulldogs 30-14 in the paint and made Gardner-Webb work to

get off shots.

Dieng started the game-deciding burst with a layup off a nice

feed from Peyton Siva and Mike Marra – mired in a miserable

1-for-21 slump over the last three games – drove the baseline for

another lay-in and the Cardinals were off to the races.

Gardner-Webb went more than 8 minutes without making a field

goal, and by the time Keith Manley ended the drought with a lay-up

the Runnin’ Bulldogs trailed 29-11.

It was all the cushion Louisville would need, and the benching

appeared to get Jennings’ attention. He was active on both ends of

the court after getting pushed around in the lane by Drexel,

finishing with six points, four rebounds and two blocks in 15


The Cardinals played without sophomore forward Rakeem Buckles,

who watched from the bench after suffering a concussion against

Drexel. Freshman point guard Elisha Justice spent the second half

in the training after taking an elbow to the face.

Buckles is expected to play Wednesday when the Cardinals travel

to Western Kentucky.

The win will send Pitino to Miami in a good mood. He’s

negotiating with Puerto Rico basketball officials to coach the

national team in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Argentina

next summer. He plans to meet with players and officials to gauge

the enthusiasm level of the program.

Puerto Rico officials have scheduled a news conference on Monday

in Miami to introduce the new coach, who will be tasked with

getting the country into the 2012 Summer Olympics in London after

it failed to qualify for the 2008 Games in Beijing.