Originally written December 17, 2011 on Fox Sports Tennessee:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Russ Smith set personal bests with 24 points and seven steals as No. 4 Louisville survived a rough-and-tumble matchup with former conference foe Memphis 95-87 on Saturday to extend the Cardinals' home winning streak to 18 games. Gorgui Dieng added 14 points and 14 rebounds in the schools' first meeting since the Cardinals (10-0) beat the Tigers (5-4) by a point to win the Conference USA tournament in 2005 before departing for the Big East. Will Barton set career highs with 28 points and 16 rebounds for Memphis, which rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to take the lead before the Cardinals overwhelmed the Tigers down the stretch in a game that featured 54 fouls. Louisville is off to its best start since the 1996-97 season and on its longest winning streak at home in 22 years. It took almost everything the Cardinals had to extend it. After Memphis rallied from a 13-point deficit to take a 58-55 lead, the two sides traded baskets for 6 minutes until Louisville took control. With the game tied, Chane Behanan hit two free throws, Rakeem Buckles finished a layup on a fast break, Dieng grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a shot in traffic, and Kyle Kuric finished an alley-oop slam from Smith to give the Cardinals a 78-70 lead with 4:49 to play. Chris Smith's 3-pointer gave Louisville an 83-73 lead and the Cardinals rolled from there with seven players in double figures. Peyton Siva finished with 13 points, Buckles 12, Kuric and Smith 11 apiece and Behanan 10 for Louisville. Joe Jackson scored 22 points for Memphis and Chris Crawford added 12. This game harkened back to the two schools' time together in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Metro Conference and Conference USA with Memphis wearing throwback uniforms from their days under coach Gene Bartow in the early 70s. Coach Rick Pitino has advocated Memphis to be added to the expanded Big East conference, and games like this could bolster the Tigers' chances. Kuric hit a 3-pointer to give Louisville a 47-34 lead with 18 12 minutes left, but Memphis rallied with a 13-3 run. Jackson hit a jumper and gave Memphis its first lead in nearly 20 minutes when he scored with a floater off the backboard and was fouled. Jackson pumped his fist, yelling "That's right!" then sank the free throw that gave Memphis a 58-55 lead. But Buckles answered with a free throw and a 3-pointer to keep the game close until Louisville's decisive 8-0 spurt. The Cardinals have big games looming later this month with No. 16 Georgetown on Dec. 28 and a Dec. 31 trip to No. 3 Kentucky, but this was a win to savor against their former rival. The Tigers began the season ranked 11th in the poll after returning all five starters and 10 letter-winners, but dropped games to Michigan and Georgetown in the Maui Invitational before losing at home to Murray State on Sunday. Russ Smith scored 13 of Louisville's first 17 points, while Dieng started slow with five straight misses before making four of his next five shots to record his third straight double-double and give Louisville some breathing room. The lead would grow to 13 before Memphis rallied.
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