Cards hit the road for test at DePaul

Louisville hit the Top 25 this week for the first time since early December. Now, the sizzling Cardinals (18-6, 8-3) are prepared to hit the road for a pair of Big East contests, starting tonight in Chicago against DePaul (10-13, 5-6).

Louisville hit the Top 25 this week for the first time since early December.

Now, the sizzling Cards are prepared to hit the road for a pair of Big East contests, starting tonight in Chicago against DePaul.

Fresh off of back-to-back Top 20 wins last week, including Saturday nights impressive, 59-51, victory over Big East-leading Georgetown, Louisville hopes to keep rolling against the Blue Demons.


The Cards are flying high into Chicago.

"You're always concerned about (a letdown) but it's easier to keep a team up than it is getting a team down," Pitino said. "It's always tough playing on the road and DePaul is a tough team to play against because they play ten different people a lot of minutes. So it will be a good test for us."

Fortunately, the Cardinals have been road warriors recently, winning 8 of their past 10 games, including five of seven this season. Louisville has won in some tough environments this season, ending UNLV's 19-game home winning streak earlier this season and Marquette's 14-game streak last week. Last season, Louisville beat DePaul 59-50 in the Windy City.

DePaul snapped a four-game losing skid over the weekend, beating South Florida, 69-61, at home. The Blue Demons have five players averaging 8 or more points per game, led by 6'4 senior guard Draelon Burns (17.7) and 6'4 freshman Dar Tucker (12.8). 6'10, 240-pound freshman center Mac Koshwal averages 11.0 points and 8 rebounds.

"DePaul has a lot of talent. They have four seniors, they shoot the three and they're a dangerous ball club," said Pitino. "They're very good, when you watch them they're dangerous. The next two games, both teams are offensively very dangerous. Providence is a lot like Seton Hall but with a little more talent. They make shots like Seton Hall makes shots. And DePaul is the same way. If you catch them on a good offensive night you're in trouble. So your defense has to be there."

That's one thing Louisville seemingly can count on – their defense. The Cardinals have held seven of their last nine opponents under 40 percent shooting and held Georgetown to just 20 second half points Saturday night.

The Cardinals, using a mix of 2-3 zone and man-to-man, rank seventh nationally in field goal defense (37.7 percent). Louisville also ranked 16th nationally in scoring defense and 25th in blocked shots per game (5.5).

"We've played good defense all year long and I think one of the reasons is we don't let our opposition get used to one defense," said Pitino. "I think that's the key with us. We change so often that we keep them off-guard."

While Louisville, winners of 9 of their last 11 games, appears to be hitting its stride, Pitino still thinks his relatively young team has plenty of room left for improvement.

"I think we still have a lot of growth left," Pitino said. "We can grow in terms of our fast break. I still want us getting out more on the fast break. We don't outlet the ball quick enough. So we're working on getting the ball out quicker."

That shouldn't be a problem against DePaul and Providence, both who prefer an up-tempo pace.

"The next two games that shouldn't be a problem," said Pitino. "They're not Georgetown. DePaul and Providence really want to run."


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