LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Cat Barber's surging self-assuredness could be the catalyst that alters the course of North Carolina State's season.
It was, at least, enough to spark Saturday's 74-65 win over No. 9 Louisville, the Wolfpack's second win against a top 10 conference opponent this year.
"My confidence keeps getting higher and higher," Barber said after scoring 21, his third 20-point effort in the past four games. "Coaches keep telling me, 'Be me. Be Cat and do what Cat does best.' I think I've taken that under consideration."
The sophomore point guard had no turnovers in a 51-47 loss three days ago to No. 2 Virginia and had just two late turnovers Saturday that coach Mark Gottfried chalked up to fatigue.
"Against their pressure, I though Cat was sensational," Gottfried said.
N.C. State (15-11, 6-7 ACC) had lost five of six, with all but one coming by five or fewer points. The tough defeats have worn on the Wolfpack, but Gottfried saw a different look from his players as they clung to a lead against the Cardinals, a sign that Barber may not be alone in his growth.
"I thought (Saturday) we had that look in our eye that we were going to win the game — that confidence," Gottfried said.
The Wolfpack held Louisville (20-5, 8-4) to 33 percent shooting and outscored the Cardinals 32-16 in the paint in a total performance not seen since N.C. State beat Duke on Jan. 11.
"We got dominated at all five positions," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
NO. 1 KENTUCKY 77, S.C. 43: Willie Cauley-Stein scored 14, Aaron Harrison added 11 and the host Wildcats (25-0, 12-0 SEC) matched the best start in program history, set by the 1953-54 squad.
NO. 2 UVA 61, WAKE 60: Anthony Gill scored 19 and Malcolm Brogdon stole the ball from Cody Miller-McIntyre to prevent a potential winning shot in the final seconds, preserving the win for the host Cavaliers (23-1, 11-1 ACC).
NO. 3 GONZAGA 56, PEPPERDINE 48: Kevin Pangos scored 19 for the host Bulldogs (26-1, 14-0 WCC), who won their 19th straight game.
NO. 4 DUKE 80, SYRACUSE 72: Jahlil Okafor had 23 points and 13 rebounds for his ninth double double of the season to lift the visiting Blue Devils (22-3, 9-3 ACC) to their fifth straight win.
NO. 6 VILLANOVA 68, NO. 18 BUTLER 65: Darrun Hilliard rallied the visiting Wildcats (23-2, 10-2 Big East) in the second half and hit a 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left. The Bulldogs (18-7, 8-4) could have forced overtime, but Kelan Martin's 3 from the left wing came up short at the buzzer.
NO. 8 KANSAS 74, NO. 16 BAYLOR 64: Kelly Oubre scored 18, including a clinching 3-pointer in the final minutes, and the Jayhawks (21-4, 10-2 Big 12) dug out of a 13-point first-half hole to improve to 13-0 against the Bears (18-7, 6-6) in Lawrence, Kan.
PITT 89, NO. 12 UNC 76: Sheldon Jeter scored a career-high 22 for the host Panthers, who shot 65 percent (37-of-67) and never trailed while dominating the Tar Heels (18-7, 8-4 ACC).
NO. 14 IOWA ST. 79, NO. 21 W.VA. 59: Monte Morris scored 19 for the host Cyclones (18-6, 8-4 Big 12), who swept the season series with the Mountaineers (19-6, 7-5).
NO. 15 WICHITA ST. 68, ILLINOIS ST. 62: Ron Baker scored 19 for the visiting Shockers (23-3, 13-1 MVC), who overcame 36.7 percent shooting from the field with fierce defense.
KANSAS ST. 59, NO. 17 OKLA. 56: Marcus Foster made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in his return from a three-game suspension to lead the host Wildcats over the Sooners (17-8, 8-5 Big 12).
NO. 19 MARYLAND 76, PENN ST. 73: Dez Wells scored 22, Melo Trimble added 20 and the visiting Terrapins (21-5, 9-4 Big Ten) pulled away with a strong second half.
NO. 20 VCU 79, GW 66: Melvin Johnson scored 17 and hit five 3-pointers as the visiting Rams (19-6, 9-3 Atlantic 10) snapped a two-game skid.
TCU 70, NO. 21 OKLA. ST. 55: Amric Fields had 12 points and played a big part in an upset-sealing 10-0 run by the host Horned Frogs over the Cowboys (17-8, 7-6 Big 12).
MICH. ST. 59, NO. 23 OHIO ST. 56: On Valentine's Day, Denzel Valentine hit a winning 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left to lift the host Spartans after the Buckeyes (19-7, 8-5 Big Ten) had rallied from nine down at halftime.
FAMU 57, N.C. A&T 50: Jermaine Ruttley had 24 points and nine rebounds for the host Rattlers (1-23, 1-10 MEAC), who went in as into the only winless team in Division I.
NO. 2 UCONN 87, TULANE 39: Moriah Jefferson scored 16 to lead six players in double figures for the host Huskies (24-1, 13-0 AAC), who are poised to take over the No. 1 ranking Monday.
NO. 16 PRINCETON 56, YALE 50: Alex Wheatley scored 18 and Annie Tarakchian added 14 points and 11 rebounds as the visiting Tigers (23-0, 7-0 Ivy) remained the only undefeated Division I women's basketball team.
NO. 18 RUTGERS 78, PURDUE 49: Kahleah Copper had 24 points for the host Scarlet Knights (19-6, 10-4 Big Ten), who pulled away with a 22-5 second-half run.
NO. 21 CHATTANOOGA 76, UNC GREENSBORO 52: Chelsey Shumpert scored 15 and hit two 3-pointers for the host Mocs (22-3, 10-0 Southern), who shot 51.8 percent from the floor and never trailed.