Palacios lifts Louisville to 70-65 win over New Mexico State
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—Andre McGee had 15 points, Earl Clark added 14 and Louisville held off pesky New Mexico State 70-65 on Saturday in the Billy Minardi Classic.
The Cardinals (7-3) hardly played their best game, shooting just 37 percent from the field against the Aggies (5-9) in the game named after Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s brother-in-law, who died in the terrorists attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
New Mexico State slowly chipped away at Louisville’s 14-point lead, tightening the game to 68-65 on Jahmar Young’s jumper with a minute to play.
Forward Juan Palacios, out since October with a right knee injury, hit two free throws with 22.9 seconds left to ice the game for Louisville on his only points of the game.
Terrence Williams had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Edgar Sosa chipped in with 10 points for Louisville, who was playing their second of five straight home games.
The first trip back to Freedom Hall for New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies, a former Louisville assistant, didn’t produce the same result like the last two years he spent under Pitino.
Justin Hawkins was the lone bright spot for the Aggies, scoring 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Jonathan Gibson had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Young added 11 points for New Mexico State.
Palacios gave Louisville a much-needed lift off the bench. Wearing a brace on the knee, he entered with 17:17 to play in the first half to a standing ovation.
His defense and experience added depth to a Cardinals team that desperately needs another inside presence. Palacios, the last remaining contributor during Louisville’s 2005 Final Four run, has been bothered by injuries the last three seasons.
The Aggies came out fast in the second half, narrowing the Cardinals’ gap to 37-30.
But it didn’t last.
McGee hit four consecutive 3-pointers to put Louisville ahead 49-37, and the Cardinals leaned on their pressure defense the rest of the way.
New Mexico State took an early 8-6 lead, the only time the Aggies went ahead all game.
Williams hit two 3-pointers as Louisville scored 10 straight points to go ahead 32-17 midway through the opening half. Despite shooting just 30 percent in the half, Louisville managed to lead 35-23 at the break. ^