ROSEMONT, Ill. – Russ Smith hit back-to-back baskets in overtime Saturday and No. 19 Louisville rallied from an early 17-point deficit to beat DePaul 90-82, the Cardinals' seventh win in eight games.
Kyle Kuric scored 25 points, Chris Smith added 20 and Russ Smith 16 to lead the Cardinals (21-6, 9-5 Big East), who trailed by 10 at the half in the noisy Allstate Arena where they were cheered by a large contingent of red-clad fans.
DePaul (11-15, 2-12) has now lost 36 straight games to ranked opponents. The Blue Demons have lost 11 of their last 12 but this was a game they appeared ready to win, building a big first-half lead.
Brandon Young scored 27 and Cleveland Melvin chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds for DePaul.
After losing their big lead, the Blue Demons tied the game at 77 when Charles McKinney hit a basket with 2.2 seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime.
With the game tied at 79 in overtime, Russ Smith hit back-to-back baskets from in-close. Peyton Siva added two free throws and Chris Smith had a layup and three free throws to seal the win. The Cardinals outscored the Blue Demons 13-5 in overtime.
Kuric had 17 of his points in the second half and was 9 for 17 from the field. He made five 3-pointers.
In regulation, Chris Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 1:15 to go, giving Louisville the lead at 74-72. And after a DePaul turnover, Kuric drove for a score and a four-point lead.
Donnavan Kirk then hit a 3-pointer — his second of the season — to bring the Blue Demons within one with 36 seconds left. After Louisville made one free throw, McKinney hit a shot from in close with 2.2 seconds to go.
DePaul shot 54.8 percent in the first half, swarmed the court with scrappy defense, had separate runs of 16-0 and 16-2 and took a 42-32 halftime lead.
The teams warmed up in the dark for several minutes when the lights at the Allstate Arena, dimmed for a pre-game video, didn't come back on quickly enough.
After Louisville got the first four points, the Blue Demons reeled off 16 straight as Jeremiah Kelly capped the frantic outburst with a 3-pointer, making it 16-4.
Louisville, which shot 37.5 percent in opening half, then ran off nine straight points and had the ball trailing by eight in the closing seconds. But DePaul's Worrel Clahar hit two free throws with less than a second to go after Louisville was whistled for a foul under its own basket, a call that coach Rick Pitino discussed with an official on the floor after the teams had headed to the locker room.
Louisville has now beaten DePaul nine straight times.