Buckles, Dieng cleared for practice

After a thrilling overtime loss at No. 8 Notre Dame Wednesday night, No. 15 Louisville is getting healthier on the court. With Syracuse heading to town for a big game Saturday, Rakeem Buckles and Gorgui Dieng both were cleared to practice Thursday.

Louisville has a big game Saturday at home against Syracuse and the injury-depleted Cardinals appear to be getting back to full strength.

After a thrilling 89-79 overtime loss at No. 8 Notre Dame Wednesday night, Rick Pitino's team received good news Thursday as Rakeem Buckles and Gorgui Dieng both were cleared to practice.

Buckles, Louisville's leading rebounder this season, hasn't played since a win over Morgan State in December. He broke his index finger the day before the Cardinals New Year's Eve loss to Kentucky, and has missed Louisville's first 11 Big East games.

Dieng, one of the league's top shot blockers, has missed the last four games after sustaining a concussion in the second half of Louisville's win over West Virginia two weeks ago.

Without Buckles in the lineup, Louisville has positioned itself near the top of the Big East standings with a 7-4 mark. The Cardinals went 2-2 with Dieng sidelined, beating UConn and DePaul, and falling to Georgetown and Notre Dame.

Buckles and Dieng certainly would provide a frontcourt boost for the Cardinals in the final seven Big East regular-season games. The Cardinals have been forced into some mismatched lineups in recent weeks, including playing small forward Kyle Kuric out of position at power forward.


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