It's an important game for both teams.
For the Cardinals, Rick Pitino's squad is trying to continue building their NCAA tournament resume with another road win over a nationally-ranked opponent. With an 8-4 record in the Big East, Louisville figures they need to win three of their last four conference games to lock down a slot in next month's Big Dance.
"If we get 11 (wins) we're pretty much a lock," Pitino said. "But beating Pittsburgh and Marquette on the road back to back is no easy task."
No it's not. Last month, Marquette came into Freedom Hall and handed Louisville a 74-65 loss, behind the stellar play of Dominick James. James scored 18 points and hit 4-of-7 threes to lead the Golden Eagles. Tom Crean also got great play from wings Wes Matthews and Jerel McNeil, who combined for 32 points and eight assists.
"Marquette's a very difficult team to prepare for," Pitino said. "Offensively, they play a lot like Memphis. They try to take the ball to the basket and try to get fouled and if they don't they interior dish as well as any team around. They are very difficult (to defend) off the bounce."
In their 66-53 upset over Pittsburgh, the Cardinals played their best game of the season. In that contest, Louisville played unselfishly, executed on offense and held Pittsburgh to 35 percent shooting.
going inside to 6-11
The way Louisville played against the Panthers is exactly the opposite of how they played last month in their loss to Marquette. In that contest, Louisville failed to look inside to center David Padgett, hoisted too many ill-advised perimeter shots and got only one assist from small forward Terrence Williams.
"We took some ill-advised shots in the last game, which turned a three point lead into a three point deficit by halftime," Pitino said. "We've got to take great shots like we did against Pittsburgh."
The play of Williams and freshman point guard Edgar Sosa were big reasons why was so efficient offensively against Pittsburgh. The 6-5 Williams took just 6 shots – he was 4-16 in the loss to Marquette – but handed out seven assists with no turnovers.
"He drove into the lane the last game and found people and that's what we need him to do," Pitino said.
Sosa played perhaps his finest game as a Cardinal against the Panthers, running the offense properly. Though he scored just nine points, Sosa played 32 minutes, made four assists and hit all four of his free throw attempts. He also helped apply pressure on defense, leading to 19 Pittsburgh turnovers.
"That was the first game he played this year where he looked like a point guard," Pitino said. "He didn't go out and just play - he had an understanding of what we were trying to do. He ran the offense and made other people better."
Tonight, Louisville hopes to do something they didn't do in the first matchup against Marquette – establish Padgett and 6-9 freshman Derrick Caracter in the post. Padgett scored 16 points in the win over Pitt and Caracter, who didn't play in the first meeting against the Golden Eagles, has scored 24 points and hauled down 14 rebounds the past two games for the Cardinals.
"Against Marquette the last time we ignored the post and took jump shots," Pitino said. "When we work inside to out good things happen. (Derrick) has been a changed man since he's come back in terms of his work ethic and attitude. He's contributing to the team for the first time."