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Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2003 11:33 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(6) Louisville 77, Cincinnati 71
CINCINNATI BEARCATS
Cincinnati Bearcats
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LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
Louisville Cardinals
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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Cincinnati should expect a rough couple of days. Apparently, Louisville should not expect a picnic either.

After coach Bob Huggins punished his team following a loss on Saturday, Cincinnati allowed No. 6 Louisville to dominate the final eight minutes of the first half and cruise to a 77-71 triumph over its Conference USA rival.

Louisville (17-1, 7-0 C-USA American) led just 18-17 with 7:55 to go in the opening half when freshman Francisco Garcia buried a 3-pointer to ignite a 19-8 burst. The Cardinals never were headed and extended the nation's longest winning streak to 16 games.

Louisville, which is the only Division I team with just one loss, is just one victory shy of matching the school's longest winning streak, set by the 1979-80 squad.

Garcia had a trio of 3-pointers in the run, tied a school record with eight 3-pointers and has 47 points in his last two games. James Brewer hit eight 3-pointers in a game for Louisville on January 2, 1993.

"Garcia hit eight threes but the (upperclassmen) created those shots for him," Huggins said.

Reece Gaines added 17 points and seven rebounds for Louisville, which is off to its best start since opening the 1955-56 season 19-1. The Cardinals won the NIT title that season.

Jason Maxiell led Cincinnati (13-6, 6-3) with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Huggins banished his team from their lavish locker room following Saturday's loss, saying the team "doesn't deserve the same treatment as the guys who do (play hard)." The coach also prevented the players from wearing their practice gear and ran extended practices.

Things do not figure to get any better following the Bearcats' third straight loss.

"When you spend all of your time trying to get your players to play hard, it is hard to coach," Huggins said. "This is the least physical that we've ever been."

While Huggins continues to try and find a way to motivate his team, Louisville coach Rick Pitino also was unhappy with his squad's play.

"I am not happy with any of the players right now," Pitino said. "I am excited about the victory but I'm upset about a lot of things."

The Cardinals were within 18-17 following a jumper by former walk-on Armein Kirkland with 7:55 left in the opening half but Garcia buried a 3-pointer 68 seconds later and, after a free throw by Taron Barker, Gaines had layups just under a minute apart for a 25-18 lead.

Kareem Johnson had a dunk for Cincinnati but Marvin Stone had an offensive rebound and dunk for Louisville and Garcia made it 30-20 with another shot from beyond the arc. After Leonard Stokes sank three free throws for the Bearcats, Garcia hit another 3-pointer and Larry O'Bannon had an offensive rebound and tip for a 35-23 cushion.

Garcia was 5-of-6 from 3-point range in the opening half while Gaines' six points in the first 20 minutes gave him 1,686 and moved him past Billy Thompson into 10th place on the school's all-time list.

Cincinnati shot just 33 percent (8-of-24) in the first half and committed 13 of its 22 turnovers over the first 20 minutes.

"We can't turn it over 13 times in a half," Huggins said.

A layup by Stokes to start the second half sliced the Bearcats' deficit to 10 points but Louisville scored eight of the next 10 points. Garcia capped the spurt with another 3-pointer, extending Cincinnati's lead to 45-29 with 16:08 to go.

Cincinnati battled back and was within 53-48 with 8:16 remaining. But Luke Whitehead had a layup that sparked a 7-3 run and the Bearcats never got closer than seven down the stretch.


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