Minnesota upsets No. 9 Louisville, 70-64
GLENDALE, Ariz. - Al Nolen scored 18 points, 13 from the free throw line, and Minnesota upset No. 9 Louisville 70-64 on Saturday to remain unbeaten.
Blake Hoffarber came off the bench to score 15 for the Golden Gophers (10-0), who are off to their best start since 11-0 in 1976-77.
Terrence Williams scored 17 points and Earl Clark 16 for Louisville, which trimmed a 12-point deficit to four in the final minutes before the Gophers put the game away at the line.
The Cardinals (7-2) looked weary after crossing the country to play less than 48 hours after a game in Cincinnati. The Cardinals went 9:31 without a field goal in the second half and shot only 37 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The game was a reunion for Louisville's Rick Pitino and his former Kentucky assistant, Tubby Smith, who succeeded him at the helm in Lexington.
Smith and Pitino chatted on the court for several minutes as their teams warmed up. Pitino holds a 6-5 edge over Smith, though Smith has won four straight against his former boss.
The Gophers led 38-33 at halftime, and Minnesota opened the second half on a 12-4 run.
Hoffarber hit back-to-back 3-pointers as Minnesota opened a 56-44 lead with 8 minutes to play. Hoffarber added three free throws a minute later to score nine straight points.
The Cardinals pulled to within 61-57 with 3:54 to go, but came no closer. Louisville scored only one bucket in the final 3:54, and Minnesota held off the Cardinals by making its final seven shots from the line in the final minutes.
Louisville had averaged 79.6 points per game, but its attack sputtered for most of the game. With six minutes to go, the Cardinals had as many turnovers (15) as buckets.
Louisville may have been a bit weary. The Cardinals were coming off a tough 77-68 victory over Ole Miss in Cincinnati on Thursday night, less than 48 hours earlier.
This was only the second game away from Minneapolis for the Golden Gophers, who have feasted on a soft nonconference schedule.
The game was the first half of the Stadium Shootout doubleheader, with No. 20 Arizona State and Brigham Young in the second game. It was the first basketball game in domed University of Phoenix Stadium and a dry run for organizers of the NCAA West Regional next March.
The stadium is the home of the Cardinals - the Arizona Cardinals. But with acres of empty seats, no one had a homecourt advantage. Among the handful of fans at courtside was Louisville native Muhammad Ali, who has a home in the Phoenix area and regularly attends local sports events.