MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- In a less than stellar shooting contest, Ellis Myles' workmanlike effort inside kept Louisville in a hunt for a conference crown.
Myles scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Taquan Dean added 14 points as No. 11 Louisville rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to record a 53-44 Conference USA victory over Memphis.
Not only did the win keep Louisville (24-4, 12-2 C-USA) tied with Charlotte for the top spot in the league standings, but it also avenged an 85-68 home loss to Memphis on February 9. Louisville will host Charlotte in Freedom Hall on Thursday.
With both teams struggling to crack 35 percent shooting, Myles provided a spark for the Cardinals on the offensive glass, keeping alive numerous missed shots with his tenacity.
He pulled down an offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Dean with Louisville clinging to a 42-41 lead with 3 1/2 minutes to play and dished the ball to Juan Palacios, who got fouled making a layup. The freshman converted the ensuing free throw to put Louisville ahead, 45-41.
Palacios finished with seven of his eight points in the second half and Francisco Garcia added five of his 12 after the break for the Cardinals, who posted their fourth straight win despite shooting 31 percent (16-of-51).
Losing to Memphis last time playing man-to-man, Louisville coach Rick Pitino decided that the Cardinals would change to a zone to attempt to harass the Tigers' 3-point shooting.
"What we wanted to do tonight was mix up our defenses," Pitino said. "We wanted to play a very aggressive zone and not give them a three. I believe they are 13-4 when they make six or more threes and 3-6 when they make less. So that 3-point line was a line in the sand for us, we were not going to give it up."
And bother the Tigers' long-range shooting the Cardinals did. Memphis, which entered the game shooting 36 percent from the arc, made just 1-of-23 3-pointers. Leading scorer Rodney Carney and freshman sensation Darius Washington went a combined 0-of-8.
"(Louisville's playing zone defense) got us to stay on the perimeter," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "The zone hadn't bothered us like this all year. I'll tell you what usually happens, we make threes."
Washington scored 14 points, but Carney was kept off the scoresheet on 0-of-9 shooting. Carney entered the game averaging 16.5 points for the Tigers (16-12, 9-5), who shot a season-low 20 percent (11-of-56).
Trailing, 39-28, with 9:43 to play, Louisville propelled itself back into the game behind a 12-0 run. Reserve Lorrenzo Wade scored all five of his points during the spurt that gave the Cardinals a 40-39 edge with 6:39 remaining.
Louisville held Memphis to 0-of-4 shooting and forced a turnover during the run.
"Defense will win games for you, and I tell our team all the time to not (try) and outscore people," Pitino said. "If we have a great night then so be it, but if we don't, we must rely on our defense."