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EditorsNote: updated with additional quotes and information
Memphis steals win at Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- It takes a thief to know a thief. In a game matching two of the most larcenous teams in the country, No. 24 Memphis outscored No. 12 Louisville 18-6 in the final 5:26 and knocked off the defending national champions 73-67 on Thursday night in the KFC Yum! Center.
Louisville led 61-55 when Memphis started its run with two free throws by Geron Johnson, who had six points, two rebounds and a steal during the spurt. He finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"Geron Johnson played a great game," Memphis coach Josh Pastner said. "I can't say enough about how all the kids played."
Shaq Goodwin and Joe Jackson led Memphis with 15 points apiece. The Tigers shot 50.9 percent from the field (28 of 55) and all five starters scored in double figures.
"You can't win when you let the other team shoot 51 percent," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We didn't play very good defense. We didn't play well. We got confused on defense a couple of times at the end. I don't know why. We didn't get confused one time last year. We just aren't as good on defense as we were last year.
"They played well. We didn't. We missed some free throws, a couple of wide-open shots, and we made one of the worst turnovers I've ever seen (a cross-court pass that got picked off). Give them credit. They made the shots."
Pastner said, "This was a great win. All wins are great. Rick Pitino is a great coach. We have to play them again in Memphis."
Memphis' baskets in its closing 18-6 run included three dunks and two layups. The dunks were two by Johnson and one by Goodwin. The layups both were by Jackson.
"We had a tough game Saturday against a tough Cincinnati team and they kicked our butts," Pastner said. "There was a lot of stuff going on in the city with everyone. The earth was flat for the next four days. And so my staff did a great job of keeping the guys together. and then, obviously, in the end the players made plays.
"This is a player's game. ...That's what it comes down to. We made some shots when we needed to, and that's the bottom line. We got four straight stops late. We finished the game. We made some big plays late. Geron Johnson really stepped up."
Luke Hancock led Louisville with 20 points but missed all four of his three-point attempts in the second half after having 14 points at intermission. Russ Smith added 19 points, including 14 in the second half, but had five turnovers. Montrezl Harrell added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cardinals shot just 39.1 percent from the field (25 of 64) and were outrebounded 37-35.
Memphis came in fifth in the nation at 10.2 steals per game. Louisville was seventh at 10.0. Louisville actually had more steals than Memphis (12-8), but it was two steals by the Tigers in the final moments (one by Johnson, the other by Jackson) that were decisive.
Three Louisville starters had sub-par games. Wayne Blackshear and Chris Jones scored just two points each and Mangok Mathiang one.
Memphis led at halftime 36-33 at halftime. After taking a 6-0 lead, the Tigers never trailed. Louisville tied the score just twice, at 23-all and 25-25.
NOTES: Memphis' next game is Saturday at Temple. Louisville will entertain SMU on Sunday. ... The Louisville-SMU game will match two Hall of Fame coaches -- SMU's Larry Brown and Louisville's Rick Pitino. ... After the loss, Louisville is 9-1 at home this season. ... Memphis is now 2-1 in road games this season. The Tigers were 3-1 at neutral sites.