March 1, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -Andre McGee scored a season-high 16 points as No. 6 Louisville edged No. 8 Marquette 62-58 on Sunday to keep its hopes for a Big East title alive.

Terrence Williams added 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Cardinals (23-5, 14-2 Big East), who have won five straight and can clinch at least a share of the regular-season title by winning their final two games.

Wesley Matthews led the Golden Eagles (23-6, 12-4) with 19 points, but Marquette lost its second straight despite a game effort without star Dominic James, who broke his left foot in a loss to No. 2 Connecticut last week.

The Cardinals harassed Marquette into a season-low 34 percent shooting and survived a couple of runs by Marquette, who never led in the second half but never let Louisville get comfortable.

Yet when the Cardinals needed a basket, Williams or McGee obliged with the kind of steady play the two seniors have provided for the last three seasons.

Louisville wore white throwback jerseys in honor of the late-1960s teams led by Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, and coach Rick Pitino added a bit of sartorial flair in a white linen suit.

The play wasn't nearly as pretty as Pitino's duds, but the Cardinals have made a habit of winning in all kinds of ways. They did it on Sunday by suffocating the Golden Eagles, holding the Big East's highest-scoring team to its second-lowest point total of the season.

Jerel McNeal, Marquette's leading scorer, managed just 10 points on 3-of-19 shooting, including 2-of-10 3-pointers. Lazar Hayward had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Eagles, but Marquette wore down just enough in the second half to let the Cardinals escape.

It wasn't easy. Louisville nearly let an 12-point lead evaporate and didn't have victory in hand until Matthews' leaning 3-pointer bounced around the rim before hopping out with 10 seconds left. Earl Clark collected the rebound and Louisville dribbled out the clock.

James didn't make the trip following surgery to repair his foot, but backup Maurice Acker played admirably while guiding Marquette's offense. He finished with three points, three rebounds and three assists and used his quickness to disrupt the Cardinals on defense.

Louisville's size, however, proved to be just a little too much. After spending the first half trying to match the Golden Eagles 3-pointer for 3-pointer, the Cardinals took control by getting in the paint.

Louisville opened the second half with a 13-5 surge sparked by McGee. He hit an acrobatic layup to get Louisville going, later fed center Samardo Samuels for a dunk, then stripped McNeal at midcourt and extended every inch of his 5-foot-10 frame to get up for a rare slam.

Clark followed with a putback to put Louisville up 38-26. Marquette kept coming behind the play of Hayward, who hit a couple of 3-pointers late to keep the Golden Eagles within striking distance.

Yet Marquette could get no closer than three, and Williams celebrated by pointing to the "Louisville" logo across the front of his jersey as time expired.