Cards hope to continue winning ways at Tulane

<b>PREVIEW</b> Riding a six-game win streak and atop the Conference USA league standings, No. 12 Louisville (17-3, 5-1) hopes to continue its winning ways in New Orleans Saturday night against Tulane (8-10, 2-5).

Larry O'Bannon dazzled the home crowd with the best game of his career.

O'Bannon hopes to be just as impressive on the road as No. 12 Louisville shoots for its season-high seventh straight win at Conference USA foe Tulane on Saturday.

The 6-foot-4 senior guard hit six 3-pointers and scored 30 points, both career highs, to lead the Cardinals (17-3, 5-1) in a 99-52 victory over Marquette on Wednesday. O'Bannon also had five rebounds, two steals and a career-best seven assists for Louisville, which posted season highs of 56.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 17 three-pointers made.

He punctuated the night with a steal and breakaway dunk before Cardinals coach Rick Pitino took him out, prompting chants of ``Lar-ree! Lar-ree!'' from the crowd.

``You can't beat that -- 20,000 people yelling for you. You can't even dream of that,'' said O'Bannon, who went 9-of-13 from the field. ``I didn't want to crack a smile, but I was sunshine on the inside.''

Pitino was pleased for the soft-spoken and hard-working O'Bannon, the team's second leading scorer with 14.8 points per game.

``Larry had a special night,'' Pitino said. ``It's wonderful to see a person like him have a game like this. He exemplifies everything we're trying to build with our program.''

Senior forward Ellis Myles had 12 rebounds Wednesday and averages a team-high 9.3 boards per game -- second-best in the conference.

Francisco Garcia added 14 points for the Cardinals, who won for the 11th time in 12 games and are tied atop the conference with Charlotte. The 6-7 junior forward paces the best offense in C-USA with 16.6 points a game.

All five starters have double-figure scoring averages for Louisville, which leads the league in scoring offense (84.6 ppg), field goal percentage (48.4), and 3-point percentage (41.2).

The Cardinals, who lead the nation with a plus-24.0 scoring margin, rank second in the conference in scoring defense (60.7) and field goal percentage defense (36.8).

Tulane (8-10, 2-5) has won two of three since a season-high four-game losing streak.

Freshman guard Taylor Rochestie scored a team-high 13 points and hit the game-winner for the second time in three games in a 63-61 victory over Houston on Wednesday.

The Green Wave held the Cougars to 35.5 percent shooting and outrebounded them 52-30.

``We made the extra effort all night all over the court and that is the difference in winning,'' Tulane coach Shawn Finney said.

Quincy Davis, a 6-9 junior center, leads Tulane with 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.

Saturday's game was scheduled for the New Orleans Arena but was changed to Fogelman Arena on campus after Tulane's thrilling 76-73 overtime win there over UAB on Jan. 19. The Green Wave are 6-2 at home this season.

``We want to continue the excitement on campus and we hope to sell out the Louisville game,'' Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson said. ``That is the type of environment we need to give our team the best chance at success.''

Louisville, 4-1 on the road this season, leads the all-time series 36-6 and has won six straight meetings.

TIME 8:00 PM TELEVISION WDRB-41 RADIO 84 WHAS


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