Pitino looks for better offense against UAB

Will No. 19 Louisville (7-2) bounce back from its loss last week to Minnesota against UAB Saturday afternoon at Freedom Hall? There's a tell-tale sign for the Cardinals chances of success – their field goal shooting.

In seven wins this season, Louisville has made nearly 47 percent of its shots from the field. In two losses to Western Kentucky and Minnesota, the Cardinals connected on just 32.1 percent from the floor. When the Cardinals have taken good shots – and made a good percentage – this season, they've usually won big. When they've taken difficult shots – and made a poor percentage – they've lost to teams with less talent on paper.

Will Andre McGee see more minutes
at the point?

Pitino says the solution to his team's occasional shooting woes resides in better player and ball movement. In an effort to solve those problems, Pitino hinted after the loss to Minnesota that lineup changes could be in the offing. That could mean more Andre McGee instead of Edgar Sosa at the point.

"Recently Tom Crean texted me about our team last year, pointing out that we were the best quick passing team in the country," Pitino wrote on his website this week. "He was on the money. That is precisely our weakness this year. Too much dribbling, that is our number one problem. We will cure it by UAB. We need ball movement which leads to player movement."

Though UofL's defense has been strong early this season – the Cardinals rank eighth nationally in field goal percentage defense and third in three-point percentage defense – the Cardinals turned in perhaps their worst defensive effort of the season against the Golden Gophers. Minnesota made 7 of 19 three's and got to the free throw line 37 times – making 27.

"Defensively we played our poorest game," Pitino said. "Give Minnesota the credit for creating good shots in their offense. We fouled too much and did not move our feet."

Starting with UAB, the Cardinals face a tough three-game stretch that includes home contests against UNLV (12/31) and Kentucky (1/4) before opening Big East play Jan. 7 at USF. Mike Davis' Blazers, 7-3 this season, are no stranger to Big East teams. UAB has already played USF – a 79-78 overtime win - and Cincinnati – an 87-80 loss on Dec. 6. The Blazers are 3-1 on the road this season, including a win at Arizona.

UAB is led by former Indiana standout Robert Vaden. Vaden leads the Blazers in scoring at 19.4 points and led UAB to a 79-76 win over Kentucky last December in Freedom Hall. 6-foot-8 forward Lawrence Kinnard averages 16.6 points and 9.4 rebounds and 6-foot-2 guard Paul Delaney adds 16.8 points per contest.

"We have three crucial games coming up before the start of the Big East conference," said Pitino. "All three are significantly better than any team we have faced. With a strong dose of humility added to our basketball team, our improvement will happen at a rapid pace. I am looking forward to this unlimited time to work on improving our team. There will be no time restraints and a lot of hours logged by our team in the next two weeks."

Louisville and UAB tip at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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