Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - The apprentice gave the master a scare, but Rick Pitino's fourth-ranked Louisville Cardinals pulled away down the stretch and came away with a 68-57 win over UNC-Wilmington on Sunday.
Kevin Keatts, an assistant under Pitino for three years before taking over at UNCW this season, had the Seahawks within two points with under seven minutes to play before the undefeated Cardinals answered with a game-sealing 10-2 run.
Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier each poured in 19 points for Louisville (9-0), which atoned for its 1-for-13 showing from 3-point range by outscoring the Seahawks in the paint by a wide 46-26 margin.
Harrell also pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds, while Freddie Jackson and Jordan Talley led UNCW (3-3) with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Chris Jones' layup off a steal gave the Cardinals what appeared to be a comfortable 46-28 lead with 13:47 left in regulation, but a surprising 15-0 run by the Seahawks gave the underdogs hope.
"I felt like our guys felt like we could win the game with five minutes left in the game," Keatts said.
Jackson scored six points during the surge, and Cedrick Williams hit a mid- range jumper to pull UNCW within 52-50 with 6:55 to play.
Rozier stopped the run with a bucket inside, then added two free throws and a tip-in during the aforementioned 10-2 run.
Talley cut the deficit to 62-54 with a jumper, but UNCW missed its next five to come up short.
"Really happy for coach Keatts," Pitino said. "His team played with unbelievable heart and purpose. It's not easy coming into this type of environment and play as well as they did. Our team didn't play well because they made us not play well."
The Seahawks had 11 days to rest up following the most lopsided win in school history -- a 105-47 drubbing of St. Andrews on Dec. 3.
They had fresh legs early while Louisville missed nine of its first 10 shots. UNCW was in front, 16-15, following a Craig Ponder 3-pointer just past the midway point of the first half.
Baskets were not that easy to come by the rest of the half, however, as the Cardinals scored 12 of the next 14 points. A Rozier free throw and dunk in the closing seconds gave Louisville a 32-24 halftime lead.
Pitino collected win No. 350 as Louisville's head coach ... The Cardinals have won 34 straight games at home against non-conference opponents ... This was the first-ever meeting between these two programs.