LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- With Taquan Dean out of Louisville's lineup, Francisco Garcia stepped to the forefront to meet a challenge from Tennessee State.
Garcia scored 22 of his season-high 29 points in the second half as No. 19 Louisville responded to a 14-0 run with an outstanding second half in its fifth straight victory, a 98-64 triumph over Tennessee State.
After the Tigers pulled within 36-30 a minute into the second half, Garcia highlighted a 36-14 run to give the Cardinals (11-2) a comfortable 72-44 lead with just over nine minutes to play.
The junior forward converted two fast-break layups, knocked down three 3-pointers and converted three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer.
"I think our morale was really busted at around the 14- or 15-minute mark (of the second half) when Bruce Price went down (with a knee injury) because we had made a significant run and cut their lead down to six points," Tennessee State coach Cy Alexander said.
"At that point, the score was 36-30 and they missed a free throw, we didn't block out on it, they get the rebound, scored a basket and we fouled them for a three-point play," Alexander added. "That play made it 39-30 and it all ballooned from there. In essence, that was the game for us."
Louisville, which improved to 67-3 over the last six years when scoring over 80 points, opens its Conference USA schedule Wednesday at Houston.
"At this point, we are really happy with our record," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We wanted to be undefeated, but we knew we couldn't do that, but realistically we knew that if we could be 11-2, we would be in a good situation.
"As we get ready for conference play, it's anybody's ballgame. This conference is wide open. We have to get healthy and get ready before traveling to Houston. He (Taquan Dean) has back spasms, but he should be ready to play against Houston."
Garcia, who reached the 1,000-point plateau against Eastern Kentucky on Thursday, was 9-of-16 from the field, including 4-of-10 from the arc. He made all seven free throws as he ran his streak to 34 straight free throws.
The Cardinals scored 62 points in the second half, converting 23-of-34 (68 percent) from the floor.
Lorenzo Wade scored a career-high 14 points and Larry O'Bannon added 14 for the Cardinals. Ellis Myles had 13 and 13 rebounds, and Juan Palacios added a career-high 14 boards for Louisville, which improved to 5-0 all-time against Tennessee State.
"Obviously there are four or five teams that we've faced that are as good as our conference and there are others that are not," said Pitino, whose club held a 45-31 rebounding advantage. "Our conference will be big on the glass, that's why I've been harping on that so much. Houston's a killer offensive rebounding team. They're very athletic; they trap a great deal and we have to be ready for that."
Louisville held Tennessee State well under its average of 77 points, limiting the Tigers to 38 percent (23-of-61) shooting.
Price scored 24 points and Eric King added 16 for the Tigers (5-9), who were playing without leading scorer and rebounder Rod Flowers, who injured his ankle on Friday against Iowa State.
"It really can't be put into words how losing Bruce for those few minutes impacted our psyche and Louisville really took advantage of that," Alexander said. "I think when he went down, our energy and our confidence shut down and it was only shut down for two or three minutes, but when you're already down and on the road against a good team, the lead can jump from six points to 20 points and that's what happened."
Using a pressure man-to-man defense and balanced scoring, the the Cardinals opened up a 36-16 lead with four minutes left in the first half on a layup by Myles. But Price scored eight points as Tennessee State scored the final nine points of the half and the first five of the second half.