|Date||Wednesday, January 21, 2004|
|Time/Location||7:00p.m./ Freedom Hall (18,865)|
|Radio||WHAS (840 AM)|
|Series History||Louisville leads 35-6|
|U of L Ranking||5th AP/ 6th ESPN/USA Today|
|Satellite Coord.||SBS 6, Transponder 6 (KU Band)|
|Officials||Tim Higgins, Ed Hightower, Scott Thornley|
You get the picture, though. Simply put, this game is big! It's bigger than big. It's war!
"It's always going to be a war when we play Cincinnati," Louisville star Francisco Garcia said. "We know they're coming over here to go to war. We're going to come out and play as hard as we can, focus in and take it step by step."
"I love it," Garcia continued. "I love challenges. I always love competition. That's what brings out the best in everybody. We've got warriors on this team. We're going to go hard."
Both teams enter tonight's game riding thirteen game winning streaks and both have been dominating its opponents. Cincinnati leads the nation in scoring margin at 25.2 per game, while Louisville is right behind, winning by an average of nearly 22 per contest.
"We've played two number one ranked teams but this will probably be our toughest test of the season," Pitino said.
"This is the deepest, most talented defensive team we've faced," Pitino continued. "Last year they had some offensive deficiencies, but this year they do not. It'll be a great challenge for our team."
The similarities don't stop with scoring margins and winning streaks, either. Both teams are supremely deep and neither coach will be afraid to go to his bench tonight. Both Pitino and Huggins routinely go ten deep and both benches have been productive to this point in the season.
"We're not going to fatigue them and they're not going to fatigue us," Pitino said. "It's going to come down to old fashioned fundamentals. They're one of the more physical teams in the country...that's there philospophy. But we'll be ready."
The Bearcats, who struggled slightly in the first half last Saturday against TCU before waking up to rout the Horned Frogs, are led by 6'7 forward Jason Maxiell, and sharp shooters Field Williams and Tony Bobbitt, the ladder Cincinnati's valuable sixth man.
As one of three undefeated teams remaining in college basketball, Huggins squad hasn't really been tested to this point but knows that will change against Louisville.
"It's a big game not just in the conference, but it's a big game nationally," said Huggins. "I'd rather win than lose, but I'm not convinced that it will decide the championship. They have to come to our place (on Feb. 21) and we both have a lot of tough conference games to play."
Always known as a team whose played tough, physical defensive team, Cincinnati has started so well this season because they're offense is just as good as their defense. Besides leading Conference USA in scoring, the Bearcats get balanced scoring with three players averaging about 14 points, and five other who average more than six.
Louisville's Taquan Dean, who played the Cats twice last season, knows how tough they are on defense but says whichever team does a better job stopping the other teams offense will win the game.
"Whoever stops each other in this game will win," Dean predicted.
And if their shots find the mark tonight, Louisville's defense might just be good enough to slow down the potent Bearcats attack and win round one in this season's matchup.
Probable Starting Lineups
|F||Luke Whitehead||6-6||220||Sr||14.1||8.7||San Francisco|
|F||Francisco Garcia||6-7||185||So||14.6||4.9||Bronx, NY|
|C||Kendall Dartez||6-10||225||Sr||5.0||4.4||Houston, TX|
|G||Taquan Dean||6-3||185||So||13.0||4.0||Neptune, NJ|
|F||James White||6-7||185||So||8.8||3.3||Kensington, MD|
|F||Jason Maxiell||6-7||250||Jr||14.6||7.7||Carrollton, TX|
|C||Kareem Johnson||6-7||250||Sr||4.7||4.6||Eufaula, AL|
|G||Field Williams||6-3||190||Sr||13.5||2.4||Houston, TX|
|G||Nick Williams||6-4||185||Jr||8.5||1.9||Arlington, TX|