NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Western Kentucky found a way to stop
Samardo Samuels and No. 3 Louisville.
Double-teaming Louisville's freshman big man at every turn, the
Hilltoppers stunned the Cardinals 68-54 on Sunday for their first
victory over a top-three opponent in more than 40 years.
A.J. Slaughter led the Hilltoppers (3-2) with a career-high 25
points and Steffphon Pettigrew added 17 points and 12 rebounds for
Western Kentucky, which dominated the Cardinals (2-1) at both ends
of the floor in the second half.
Terrence Williams had 19 points and Earl Clark added 11 points
and 11 rebounds for Louisville, which shot just 27 percent from the
field and made just six of 30 3-pointers.
Western Kentucky held Louisville without a field goal for nearly
10 minutes in the second half and rode Slaughter and Pettigrew to
the program's biggest regular-season win since knocking off
then-No. 4 Kentucky in 2001.
This was no last-second stunner. Western Kentucky took the lead
for good on a 3-pointer by Slaughter with 13:50 remaining and
Slaughter, the leading returning scorer from last year's team
that reached the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament, did it
all to lift the Hilltoppers to their first victory over a top-three
team since knocking off No. 3 Indiana in 1967.
It also was a memorable victory for first-year coach Ken
McDonald, a former Texas assistant who caught the coaching bug by
sneaking into Providence practices in the mid-1980s when the Friars
were coached by Rick Pitino.
In front of a highly partisan crowd at the Sommet Center, about
45 minutes south of Western Kentucky's campus in Bowling Green,
McDonald borrowed a page from Pitino's playbook. The Hilltoppers
used a stifling defense to negate Louisville's size advantage and
safely navigated the Cardinals' full-court pressure.
Louisville, meanwhile, hardly looked like the trendy preseason
Final Four pick. Settling for jumpers when the middle was cut off,
the Cardinals clanged their way out of the game after taking a
37-36 lead with 14:15 remaining.
Slaughter's 3-pointer gave the Hilltoppers the lead and Anthony
Sally followed with a runner on the baseline. Jeremy Evans, giving
away 70 pounds to Samuels, hit a putback and followed with a tip-in
to push the lead to 47-40. Louisville would get no closer than five
the rest of the way.
Samuels, who looked dominant at times during two easy Louisville
victories last weekend, couldn't get going against the Hilltoppers.
Western Kentucky often threw two bodies at the freshman whenever he
touched the ball making him either force something or give it up.
His teammates weren't much better. Louisville missed its first
eight shots, preventing the Cardinals from getting into their
full-court press. On the few occasions Louisville was able to turn
up the heat, Western Kentucky's steady guard play was able to play
keepaway and slow the game down.
Louisville finally appeared to get a little momentum when a late
7-0 run in the half gave the Cardinals a 28-24 lead. Slaughter,
however, tied it at 28 at the break, drilling a 25-footer at the
horn. He then celebrated by pumping his arms toward the sea of
red-clad Western Kentucky supporters.