U of L, Cincinnati to clash in C-USA quarterfinals

Louisville (20-8, 9-7) face Cincinnati (21-6, 12-4) Thursday night in the Conference USA Tournament quarterfinals.

March is about winning. It doesn't matter how or by how many. In the end, all that matters is playing another day.

Wednesday night, Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals did just that against East Carolina. Led by Francisco Garcia's 22 points, the Cardinals knocked off the Pirates 61-54 despite shooting just 41 percent from the field.

"We're real excited about the victory," said head coach Rick Pitino following the game. "We've had to overcome a lot this year and Luke was sick tonight, but every game is playoff time. We turned it over to much tonight, but we played with a lot of heart and guts."

Now the stage is set for a rubber match against rival Cincinnati tonight. Louisville, who thumped the Bearcats by 27 in January at Freedom Hall, then fell in overtime at the Shoemaker Center last month, hope to get healthy in time for tonight's important quarterfinal clash.

Injuries have been a fact of life this season for the Cardinals, who won their 20th game of the season last night, and tonight's game against the Bearcats appears no different.

Garcia, who injured his ankle late in last night's contest against the Pirates, and senior forward Luke Whitehead, who battled the flu, remain bitten by the injury bug.

However, Garcia returned to finish the game and Whitehead, perhaps, received a healthy dose of medicine following his big 'shot,' with 55 seconds remaining to assure Louisville's opening round win last night.

"Our guys will be ready to play and it will be a tough, physcal game," Pitino said. "They have the hometown advantage but we'll have a strong contingent here too."

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati.

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