Louisville ready for youthful St. John's

Louisville (14-5, 4-2) hopes to keep pace with Georgetown in the race for the Big East regular-season title - and continue building momentum against visiting St. John's (7-10, 1-5) Saturday afternoon at Freedom Hall.

Louisville (14-5, 4-2) hopes to keep pace with Georgetown in the race for the Big East regular-season title - and continue building momentum against visiting St. John's Saturday afternoon at Freedom Hall.

The Cardinals, 4-2 in league play, have won 9 of their last 11 games and find themselves in a four-way tie for second place in the Big East with Pittsburgh, West Virginia and DePaul. The Hoyas sit atop the Big East standings with a 5-1 record.

Louisville enters today's contest against the Red Storm fresh off a dominating 80-60 road victory over South Florida Wednesday. Earl Clark sparked the Cards off the bench against the Bulls with 18 points and eight rebounds.


Jerry Smith has been hot lately.

"When you have five losses it doesn't matter who you play or where you play – you have to get wins," said Pitino.

And that's what the Cardinals have their sights on against St. John's – another win.

After opening the season 4-0, St. John's has struggled of late, dropping 10 of their last 13 games, including their past four games. The Red Storm are 1-5 in the Big East and lost to Pittsburgh 81-57 earlier in the week.

"The only thing they lack is experience but they have one of the premier players in our conference in Anthony Mason, Jr.," Pitino said. "They're just young – they have eight freshmen, but they're very talented basketball players. They are physically talented, they have good guard play and they're deeper than South Florida."

Mason, a 6'9 junior forward, scored 29 points against Pittsburgh in St. John's last outing. Norm Roberts starts three freshmen, including 6'8 forward Justin Burrell, St. John's second-leading scorer at 12.1 points per game. Mason leads St. John's in scoring with 13.5 points per game.

"They run one of the best zone offenses in the league – they have a good zone attack," Pitino said.

Having won four of their last five games, Louisville finally appears to be hitting its stride with 12 games remaining.

Sophomore forward Earl Clark came out of his recent slump against South Florida and the Cardinals continue to get solid play from guard Jerry Smith, who has led the team in scoring 6 of the last 9 games.

Senior center David Padgett also appears to be nearing full strength after returning from a fractured knee cap against Cincinnati earlier this month. Padgett, though he missed a few chip shots around the basket against South Florida, still managed 12 points, 6 boards and three blocked shots vs. the Bulls.

"I think David is a week or two away from being 100 percent," Pitino said.


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