Cards get a rematch with Villanova

NEW YORK - The University of Louisville men's basketball team will face Villanova in a rematch of one of the Cardinals' five losses this season. Villanova beat St. John's 66-53 in the second round of the Big East Tournament and play U of L on Thursday.

Louisville gets a rematch.

The Cardinals quarterfinal opponent for the Big East Tournament will be Villanova, the team that handed them the largest loss of the season.

Villanova, a 73-64 winner over U of L on Jan. 22 in Philadelphia, beat St. John's 66-53 in Wednesday night and now plays U of L on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats outscored the Cardinals by 15 points over the final 10 minutes of the regular-season game. U of L was 12 of 24 on free throws in that contest.

Villanova coach Jay Wright knows things are a bit different. The loss was the second in a three-game streak for U of L. The Cardinals have since won 10 of 11, including seven in a row to end the regular-season.

"They were coming off a loss to Syracuse and I don't think they were playing all that well at that time," Wright said. "They're playing a lot better right now.

"I mean we'll take it but they're really hot right now."

Wright told media members after the game that the St. John's contest was "the best practice that we could have gotten" to prepare for U of L.

"We can't simulate their speed," he said. "We'll have to do a better job against them than we did tonight. But these guys know how good Louisville is, so they'll be fired up to play them."

Wright said a "major key" to Louisville's improved play has been junior Luke Hancock, who only played 10 minutes in the first game. He didn't take a shot and finished with two rebounds and three turnovers.

"He looks so much more comfortable in the system now," Wright said. "He's a killer now. You add him to Siva and Smith, those guys are outrageous.

"I think they can win the national championship. So, they're probably at a little higher level than us right now but it's only one game."

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