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Louisville puts hurt on Stanford

Pitino, returning to a familiar setting, employs a high-pressure game plan to rout Cardinal, 78-58.

March 16, 2007|From the Associated Press

LEXINGTON, KY. — Rick Pitino stood in front of the bench as the clock wound down, urging his players on, enjoying the moment.

For one day at least, he was king at Rupp Arena once again.

Playing the kind of relentless style that's become a Pitino trademark, Louisville crushed Stanford, 78-58, on Thursday in the first round of the South Regional.

The sixth-seeded Cardinals made themselves right at home on the floor of archrival Kentucky, a place Pitino -- who led the Wildcats to a national title 11 years ago -- still holds dear.

"It's tough coming in here," Pitino said, but "it was much different coming in here this time around and feeling like Darth Vader the other times."

Louisville (24-9) dominated from the opening tip in front of a highly partisan crowd that temporarily turned normally blue Rupp Arena into a sea of red.

The Cardinals will play Texas A&M in the second round on Saturday. The Aggies beat Pennsylvania, 68-52.

The Cardinals forced 11th-seeded Stanford (18-13) into 21 turnovers and never let up.

Stanford never found its footing against Louisville's aggressive full-court pressure that harassed the Cardinal all game long.

"Full-court pressure was not something we've seen in games, but we've worked on it in practice," said Stanford guard Anthony Goods. "We planned on attacking it, but we got out there and started thinking too much. We started playing to their advantage when we started thinking and they forced some turnovers."

Edgar Sosa and David Padgett scored 16 points each for Louisville.

Stanford twin brothers Robin and Brook Lopez both picked up two quick fouls, freeing up the middle for the Cardinals, who outscored Stanford in the paint 36-22 despite being at a significant size disadvantage.

Brook Lopez led Stanford with 18 points, but the Cardinal did little to validate their at-large selection.

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