Louisville faces Seton Hall, Willard

Louisville coach Rick Pitino faces former assistant Kevin Willard and Seton Hall Wednesday night in the second round of the 2012 Big East Championship.

Louisville will play Seton Hall and former Rick Pitino assistant Kevin Willard for the second time this season in the Big East Championship second round on Wednesday night at Madison Sqaure Garden.

The Pirates advanced to play No. 7 Louisville with a convincing 79-47 win over Providence Tuesday night. Herb Pope dominated inside for the Pirates, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds, while point guard Jordan Theodore added 13 points and 13 assists. Seton Hall shot a red-hot 56 percent, including 9-19 from three, while holding Providence to only 27 percent shooting.

Louisville faces Seton Hall and Kevin Willard in the second round Wednesday night.
"We've been a very good basketball team all year long for two reasons:  Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope," Willard said.  "They've led us both on and off the court, and I've said it a million times:  We can only go as far as these two guys go.  When they play that dominating, I don't think there's too many people that can beat us."

In the first meeting between the two teams, Louisville held on for a 60-51 road win over Seton Hall despite a season-high 24 turnovers. Though Theodore and Pope combined for 30 points, the Cardinals limited the Pirates to 27 percent shooting, including just 16 percent from three. Russ Smith led Louisville with 14 points, while Gorgui Dieng added 11 points and 14 rebounds. Chris Smith also scored 11 points. The Cardinals dominated inside, out-rebounding the Pirates 43-34, while blocking seven shots.

Since that win in New Jersey on Jan. 28, Louisville has staggered down the stretch, losing four of their last six games. The Cardinals have struggled offensively, failing to score more than 57 points in five of the past six games. Now, Pitino will have to knock out Willard, the coach he mentored for 10 years at Boston and Louisville, to advance to Thursday's quarterfinal against No. 2 Marquette.

"You know, going up against Coach Pitino is always a little difficult," said Willard.  "I spent ten years of my life with him, so it's tough to explain to people ten long, glorious years (laughter), but tomorrow's game is huge for us."

Solidly on the NCAA Tournament bubble, Seton Hall will be hungry to notch another tournament win to solidify their resume heading into Selection Sunday. Theodore, Seton Hall's undisputed floor leader, said the key for the Pirates against UofL is to get everybody involved offensively, while slowing down Louisville point guard Peyton Siva.

"I think we've got to get everybody involved," Theodore said. "The last go around we played them, I took too many shots and I didn't get guys involved enough.  I think that's going to be the key for us tomorrow, and just playing great defense like we did tonight, just being able to stop Peyton Siva because he is going to try to get in the lane.  He has been doing that all season, and Russ Smith.  We've just got to play team defense and see what happens."

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