LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Through the injuries and sometimes inconsistent play that sent Louisville tumbling from the polls more than two months ago, coach Rick Pitino never doubted the Cardinals would recover.
Now his team is back where Pitino thought it would be all along: atop the Big East.
David Padgett scored a season-high 26 and No. 13 Louisville overcame a dazzling performance from Notre Dame center Luke Harangody to post a 90-85 victory over the 17th-ranked Irish on Thursday night.
"We never got disappointed in December," Pitino said. "We never got down, and we certainly aren't going to hug ourselves now."
Louisville's eighth straight victory moved the Cardinals into a first-place tie atop the conference with No. 11 Georgetown with two games remaining. Louisville plays Villanova on Sunday and ends the season at Georgetown on March 8.
The Cardinals looked among the nation's best for the game's first 35 minutes. Louisville never trailed and led 73-54 on Padgett's layup with 5:41 to play.
Harangody, however, made sure Notre Dame wasn't finished. He made the first three 3-pointers of his career in the final 1:32, eventually pulling the Irish within 86-81 with 23 seconds left.
In the end, it wasn't enough to overcome the Cardinals.
Earl Clark and Edgar Sosa made four straight free throws in the last 19 seconds.
Maryland 74, Wake 70: James Gist scored a career-high 31 and the Terrapins held off the host Demon Deacons' late rally. Greivis Vasquez added 24 points and Gist had 10 rebounds for Maryland, which nearly blew two 11-point leads but sealed it with three key defensive stops in the final 90 seconds.
No. 8 Stanford 82, Wash. 79: Brook Lopez had 21 points and seven rebounds, and the host Cardinal struggled before holding off the Huskies. Stanford has won 10 of 11 overall.
No. 10 Wisconsin 57, No. 19 Mich. St. 42: Brian Butch hit a career-high four 3-pointers as the host Badgers used a late run to shake loose from the Spartans, who have lost three of their last five, including three straight road games. Butch's 3-pointer from the left wing put Wisconsin ahead 45-34 with just less than six minutes left, and he hit another long-range shot at the 4:15 mark to extend the Badgers' lead to 14, capping an 11-2 run.
No. 14 Butler 66, Wright St. 61: Julian Betko scored a career-high 17, all in the first half, and the host Bulldogs clinched the No. 1 seed in next week's Horizon League tournament.
AUBURN: Forward Korvotney Barber will remain sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken hand, coach Jeff Lebo said. Barber hasn't played since breaking his left hand three minutes into the Dec. 29 game against Towson. He was leading the nation in shooting, hitting 72 percent from the floor.
No. 3 Tennessee 88, UF 61: Candace Parker and Alex Fuller scored 18 each and the host Volunteers routed the Gators (16-12, 5-8 SEC).
Nicky Anosike scored 15 and tied a season high with 12 rebounds on the night Tennessee honored her and four other seniors, including Parker, who is skipping her final year of eligibility to enter the WNBA draft.
The Vols (26-2, 12-1) scored 40 in the paint, outrebounded the Gators 57-35 and forced them to tie a season high with 29 3-point attempts.
Sha Brooks led Florida with 27 points. She made a career-high seven 3-pointers out of 11 attempts.
FSU 50, Miami 49: Shante Williams drove the lane and hit a jumper with 6.25 seconds left to give the host Seminoles a win. Florida State (17-11, 7-6 ACC) took a half-game lead over Georgia Tech in the race for the fifth seed in the ACC tournament. The Seminoles forced the Hurricanes (9-19, 2-11) into 16 second-half turnovers, 25 for the game, which they converted into 22 of their 30 points.
No. 6 LSU 83, Arkansas 46: Quianna Chaney scored 20 and the host Tigers clinched a share of the conference title. LSU made 10 of its first 15 shots, with Chaney hitting the first five 3-pointers she attempted, as the Tigers raced to a 25-4 lead through the first seven minutes.
No. 11 ODU 82, George Mason 44: Tiffany Green scored 19 and the host Monarchs won for the 19th straight game. Old Dominion led by as many as 41 with 3:18 remaining.
No. 18 Ohio St. 87, Penn St. 84: Jantel Lavender dominated the paint with a career-high 36 points and 16 rebounds to help the visiting Buckeyes move a step closer to another Big Ten title. The 6-foot-4 freshman's running one-hander in traffic in the lane with 1:47 left gave Ohio State an 85-80 lead.
No. 19 UTEP 76, SMU 63: Jareica Hughes scored 22 to help the host Miners extend their winning streak to 20 games. UTEP missed only three of 22 free-throw attempts.
No. 22 UGA 55, S. Carolina 41: Angel Robinson scored 16 for the visiting Bulldogs on a night when star Tasha Humphrey, the SEC's third-leading scorer coming in at 17.7 a game, was held to 11.
No. 23 Vandy 73, Auburn 56: Jessica Mooney and Merideth Marsh each scored 19 for the visiting Commodores. Mooney had 13 points in a 20-3 Vanderbilt run midway through the first half.