NEWARK, N.J. — A couple more pieces fell into place for No. 3 Louisville against Seton Hall.
Talented center Gorgui Dieng played well again in only his third game back from a broken left wrist and coach Rick Pitino finally saw his Cardinals play defense the way he liked.
Dieng had 16 points and 14 rebounds — both season highs — and Louisville (14-1, 2-0 Big East) won its ninth straight game, 73-58 over Seton Hall on Wednesday night.
What made the win so impressive was that Louisville won despite getting a combined 18 points on 4-of-17 shooting from guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, their top two scorers.
"This is a team game and we have a lot of guys who can score," said Siva, who finished with seven points. "It's definitely a good sign that we can win, because me and Russ didn't shoot it well. Everyone else stepped up big and were digging in. It's a really good sign for us. Everyone was playing together and we utilized everyone."
Freshman Montrezl Harrell, starting in place of injured Chane Behanan, tied his career best with 14 points, and Luke Hancock hit two 3-pointers in a late, game-breaking 12-2 run.
"I think we're a very good offensive basketball team, but we needed to get better defensively," Pitino said. "We hadn't played well defensively until the second half tonight. We played excellent defense in the second half. We generated steals and got on the break a little. When you play a good team, you need maybe one good run. We got that in the second half. That was our run and we made the most of it."
Brandon Mobley had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Pirates (12-4, 1-2). Eugene Teague had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while leading scorer Fuquan Edwin was limited to 13 — most coming after the game was decided.
It was the second straight double-double for Dieng, who only returned to the lineup Dec. 29 after breaking his wrist against Missouri. The junior from Senegal also had three blocks.
"I'm beginning to feel good about the way I'm playing," Dieng said. "Coach tells me that he needs me to get back and do the things I used to do. I was able to get a lot of touches inside and I made the shots. I still think I need to get back to blocking four or five shots a game."
The Cardinals struggled early and didn't put the Pirates away until midway through the second half.
Seton Hall scoredseven straight to tie the game at 42, but then Harrell had an alley-oop layin, Smith scored on a fastbreak and Hancock sandwiched two 3-pointers around a layup by Mobley for a 52-44 Louisville lead.