Cards face Pitt in Big East tourney opener

Juan Palacios is coming off a career-high 29 points against Connecticut last weekend, and leads No. 11 seed Louisville (18-11, 6-10) against No. 6 seed Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2005-06 Big East Tournament Wednesday night in New York's Madison Square Garden.

A confident Louisville team appears ready to take on sixth-seeded Pittsburgh in the first round of the Big East Tournament.

The Cardinals have won two of their last four games entering tonight's game against the Panthers, but closed strong with narrow losses on the road against nationally-ranked West Virginia and Connecticut. The Cards lost 68-64 to the Mountaineers two weeks ago, and fell 84-80 to the Huskies last weekend.

"We are playing really good basketball," Pitino said. "We are very excited to be here."

Wednesday night's game will mark the second time the Cardinals and Panthers have tangled this season. Pittsburgh won a hard fought 61-57 win over the Cards on Jan. 15 at Freedom Hall in their only meeting with U of L this season. While Louisville enters the game coming off a tough loss to UConn, the Panthers come into the game off a 65-61 to Seton Hall last Friday..

Louisville coach Rick Pitino said the key for his team will be stopping Pittsburgh's 7-0 center Aaron Gray.

"We've got to stop (Aaron) Gray inside," Pitino said. "(David) Padgett played well against him and Brian and Terrance aren't quite the offensive threat that David is. So we're going to have to get a big game from Palacios and the two centers just to contain Gray."

The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to face No. 3 seed West Virginia on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN) at Madison Square Garden.

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