NEWARK -- Louisville overcame a sluggish first half and a very pedestrian scoring effort from its star backcourt to register a 73-58 victory over Seton Hall Wednesday night at The Prudential Center.
The Cardinals (14-1, 2-0 Big East), ranked third in the AP Top 25 poll, were without talented forward Chane Behanan, who turned his ankle in practice earlier in the week and received just a combined 13 points from guards Peyton Siva (7) and Russ Smith (6).
However, coach Rick Pitino's squad claimed its ninth straight win by relying on stifling defense. Ahead by just two points at the half, 36-34, the Cardinals held Seton Hall to just 28.6 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
With the score tied at 42-42 with 12:53 to play, Louisville, led by center Gorgui Dieng's 16 points and 14 rebounds, pulled away with a 12-2 run to make it 54-44 with 7:29 remaining. Luke Hancock's two 3-pointers in the sequence were the difference for the Cardinals.
Seton Hall (12-4, 1-2) has never beaten a team ranked in the top three of the Associated Press poll, going 0-30 all-time.
Brandon Mobley led the Pirates with 18 points and Eugene Teague added 14 points and 10 rebounds. Seton Hall's leading scorer, Fuquan Edwin, was limited to just 13 points, 12 coming in the second half.
The Pirates were able to get to the line, despite an overwhelming Louisville height advantage. But they converted just 20 of 31 shots from the stripe compared to 23 of 27 for Louisville.
Seton Hall was playing with just seven healthy scholarship players due to injuries.
Junior forward Brian Oliver was out with an ankle sprain, junior center Aaron Geramipoor has been out for a month with a stress fracture and junior forward Patrik Auda is redshirting after breaking his foot in November.
With just two fully healthy big men available, Teague and Kevin Johnson, the Pirates were forced to rely on their perimeter game to make the game close. Normally a decent 3-point shooting club, they finished just four of 16 from long range.