When Louisville (22-8, 12-4) begins play in the Big East Conference tournament this evening it will do so as the hottest and most improved team in the 16 team league. The Cardinals 12-4 Big East record is up six wins from last year's 6-10 mark and is their second-best conference record in the last 14 years. U of L's 2004-05 Final Four squad won Conference USA with a 14-2 league mark.
Louisville, which has won six straight games and 10 of it's last 12, has reached the 20 victory mark for the fifth straight season. During the current win streak, the Cardinals have shot well as a team, connecting on 49.6% of it's field goal attempts. U of L is also averaging 17.5 assists over the last six games.
Eight different Cardinals have averaged at least seven points a game over the last six, with freshman Derrick Caracter's 13.2 points per game average leading the way.
The Cardinals play on the defensive end of the court has also improved during recent weeks. Opponents are shooting just 39% from the field. Only twice in the past 55 years has the Cardinals' scoring defense been as low as it's current 62.6 average. U of L allowed an average of 61.5 points during the 2003-04 season.
In conference only statistics, Louisville finished the regular season as the Big East Conference leader in turnover margin (+4.0) and was second in assists-to-turnover ratio (1.36).
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
While his ability to perform during the post-season remains a question, junior forward Juan Palacios needs just 40 points to reach 1,000 career points. Palacios would become the 58th member of Cardinal basketball's 1,000-point club. U of L and North Carolina currently lead the nation with 57 1,000-point scorers.
Terrence Williams, a 2nd Team All-Big East selection, is nearing two impressive marks in just his second season at Louisville. The sophomore needs 30 rebounds to reach 400 in his career and 19 assists for 200 career.
Senior Brandon Jenkins needs just six assists to reach 250 for his career, while sophomore point guard Andre McGee is 10 assists shy of reaching the 100 career mark.
Head coach Rick Pitino is also within sight of a major career milestone. Pitino, who is in his 21st season as a collegiate head coach, needs eight victories to reach career win No. 500.
A Final Four run would assure Pitino, 492-180, of reaching the mark this season.
BEST FRESHMAN CLASS EVER?
Louisville's current crop of freshmen - Derrick Caracter, Earl Clark, Stuart Miller, Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa - have been the catalyst for the Cardinals late season run and emergence as one of the hottest teams in the country. In doing so, the group has also placed itself among elite company.
Rick Pitino's current freshmen have contributed an average of 28.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season, making it the second highest scoring group in school history. Only U of L's class of 1978-79, which consisted of Wiley Brown, Jerry Eaves, Scooter McCray and Derek Smith, had a higher average, scoring 28.4 collectively.
Additionally, the freshmen backcourt duo of Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith also rank high among their previous peers. The two have combined to average 19 points per game, ranking them the fifth highest freshmen scoring duo in U of L history. DeJuan Wheat and Jason Osborne top the list with a combined average of 22.2 points per game.
|0||Stuart Miller||1.2||0.6||0.2||Has played in 5 games|
|1||Terrence Williams||12.2||7.2||3.7||Leads team in points, rebounds and assists|
|3||Juan Palacios||9.4||5.7||1.2||Has missed last 3 games due to back strain|
|4||David Padgett||9.5||5.7||1.4||Has 44 blocked shots|
|5||Earl Clark||5.4||3.0||0.4||Averaging 8 pts, 4.4 rebounds in last 12|
|10||Edgar Sosa||10.8||2.0||2.8||Leads team with 42 steals|
|11||Brandon Jenkins||5.1||2.5||1.9||Hitting 52.4% of his shots in last 4 games|
|12||Brad Gianiny||0.7||0.4||0.4||Has played in 19 games|
|15||Perrin Johnson||1.6||1.6||0.5||Started four games for injured Palacios|
|20||Will Scott||3.9||0.9||0.3||24 of 57 from 3-point land|
|21||Chris Current||2.0||0.3||0.5||Scored career-high 10 against South Florida|
|30||Jonathan Huffman||1.2||0.8||0.3||Has played in 13 games|
|32||Derrick Caracter||8.6||4.4||0.4||Averaging 13.2 over the past 6 games|
|33||Andre McGee||2.8||1.1||1.2||Missed 13 games due to injury|
|34||Jerry Smith||8.2||3.8||1.7||Leads Big East in 3 point % (.476)|
|43||Terrance Farley||1.2||1.0||0.2||Has 14 blocked shots|