Winners of four straight, Louisville won the first matchup between the two teams earlier this season, 68-54. The Cardinals started slowly in that game, scoring just 18 first half points, but opened the game up in the second half with their defense. Louisville forced 20 UConn turnovers.
Louisville has played well recently is coming off an impressive, 72-48 win over St. John's. Though his team seems to have put things together, Rick Pitino anticipates a battle with Huskies today.
"It will be a very tough ball game and we understand that," Pitino said. "We played them very well in Storrs last year and they had a heck of a team. Right now we're playing real good basketball on the road and I think our players like playing on the road. They know how difficult it is to win on the road and they take it as a challenge."
The Cardinals could again be without Juan Palacios. The 6-8 forward missed Wednesday's game against St. John's with back spasms and is doubtful today.
"He's doubtful and still hasn't practiced and won't today," Pitino said Friday afternoon. "He is getting better, but he's a very slow healer. But it hasn't bothered us because we have people who can step in."
With only two games remaining, Louisville controls its own destiny in the Big East. Currently in sole possession of third place with a 10-4 record, the Cards could effectively seal the deal on a first round bye in the next months Big East tournament with a win today.
"We discuss the standing every day before practice," Pitino said. "We go over it on the board where we stand, who's playing who, what every game means and could potentially mean. We point out the significance of every game to keep our players emotionally tuned into everything that's going on.
"We want to get a bye and win our last two games but the most important thing is to play great basketball and that's why I'm so excited. Playing really good basketball is the important thing and we're peaking at the right time."
If the Cardinals hope to keep their winning streak going, they'll have to continue executing their offense with precision and get the ball inside to both David Padgett and Derrick Caracter for high percentage shots against the defensive-minded Huskies.
"They're blocking shots, they're tops in field goal defense and they do things defensively that cause great concern," Pitino said.