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Updated: Thursday, March 13, 2003 8:43 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(16) Louisville 82, Tulane 66
TULANE GREEN WAVE
Tulane Green Wave
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LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
Louisville Cardinals
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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Even without Marvin Stone and Ellis Myles, coach Rick Pitino continued his success in conference tournaments.

Pitino compensated for the absence of his top interior players by cranking up the full-court pressure and 16th-ranked Louisville forced 25 turnovers in an 82-66 victory over Tulane in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.

Louisville (22-6), the third seed in the tournament, will play second-seeded Memphis in Friday's semifinals. The win was the 19th for Pitino in his last 21 conference tournament games.

Pitino learned less than an hour before the game that Stone, the team's starting center, would not be cleared to play. A senior transfer from Kentucky, Stone sat out two earlier games while his amateur status was being investigated by the NCAA. In 19 starts this season, Stone averaged 10.6 points.

"Right before the game started I told the team that Marvin wasn't playing and he was fully dressed," Pitino said. "I think that some of the guys felt dejected by the news. I thought 1,000 percent that he was playing."

Louisville also was without Myles, a starting forward who suffered a season-ending ruptured patella tendon in a February 28 loss to Marquette.

Tulane (16-15) was willing to play an up-tempo game the Cards prefer with quick guards Waitari Marsh, Brandon Spann and Marcus Kinzer. But it ended up wearing down in the second half in the face of Pitino's pressure.

"If you look at the stat sheet, we had too many turnovers and (giving up) 15 offensive rebounds was real costly and that was the difference in this game," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said.

The Green Wave held a 43-40 lead with 15:02 left before Louisville reeled off 15 straight points - with the help of four turnovers - over the next 4 1/2 minutes.

Otis George had a pair of dunks in the spurt and Reece Gaines and freshman Taquan Dean each hit 3-pointers following turnovers. A free throw by Dean with 10 1.2 minutes left capped the run, giving the Cardinals a 55-43 lead.

Tulane committed 10 turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the half and pulled no closer than eight the rest of the way.

A 3-pointer by freshman Francisco Garcia and a follow shot by Luke Whitehead with 4:25 remaining increased Louisville's lead to 67-52.

Gaines and Garcia had 15 points apiece and George added 14 off the bench for Louisville. Whitehead provided an inside presence with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

"Otis woke up this morning thinking he was George Gervin. He played with a lot of confidence today," Pitino said. "Luke did a good job of getting the rebounds."

Marsh led Tulane with 17 points but committed eight turnovers. Brandon Brown and Nick Sinville each added 12 for the Green Wave.

Tulane shot 53 percent for the game and was 9-of-16 from 3-point range, but was done in by its season-high turnovers which Louisville converted to 28 points. The Cardinals were 8-of-28 from beyond the arc, but committed just six turnovers.

With the help of 10 turnovers, Louisville built a 31-24 lead but went the final four minutes of the first half without a field goal. Kinzer hit a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left and Marsh scored on a floater over Gaines in the lane at the buzzer, tying the game at 31-31.


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