Cards vault back into AP Top 10

Louisville began the 2008-09 season ranked No. 3 nationally but nearly fell out of the national polls after early season losses to Western Kentucky, Minnesota and UNLV. But the red-hot Cardinals have moved back into the Top 10 this week after three straight wins over Top 25 opponents.

The Cardinals, winners of five straight games, has knocked off current No. 20 Villanova, No. 19 Notre Dame and No. 4 Pittsburgh in the last week. Those three wins, all televised on ESPN, vaulted Louisville 11 spots to No. 9 in this week's Associated Press college basketball poll. The Cards are ranked No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

In their last outing Saturday night, Louisville knocked off then- No. 1 ranked Pittsburgh 69-63 at Freedom Hall, handing the Panthers their first loss of the season.

"Give them credit, they beat us," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "They played well in the second half. Five for seven from the three in the second half is a big difference maker - and that's what they did. That's the number that sticks out."

Eight Big East teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 poll this week, including four in the Top 10 – No. 3 UConn, No. 4 Pitt, No. 8 Syracuse and No. 9 Louisville. Marquette sits just outside the Top 10 at No. 11, with No. 12 Georgetown one slot behind.

Louisville plays at Rutgers on Wednesday then will face No. 8 Syracuse Saturday in the Carrier Dome.

Williams, Samuels earn Big East honors
University of Louisville senior forward Terrence Williams was named Big East Conference Player of the Week, while freshman center Samardo Samuels has been selected as the league Rookie of the Week for the week of Jan. 12-18.

Williams averaged 22.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and shot 53.1 percent from the field in a pair of victories over top 15 ranked Big East foes. Williams nearly had a triple-double against Notre Dame with 24 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, eight assists and three steals, marking his third-double-double in the last six games. In Louisville's victory over top-ranked and previously unbeaten Pittsburgh, he led the Cardinals with a game-high 20 points and added seven rebounds and four assists while burying 3-of-4 three-point goals.

Samuels averaged 14.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and two blocked shots in the Cardinals' two victories. He had 18 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots against Notre Dame, his highest scoring performance in nine games. He contributed 10 points and seven rebounds as the Cardinals won over Pittsburgh. It is his third Rookie of the Week honor this season.

AP Top 25
1. Wake Forest (68) 16-0 1,793
2. Duke (4) 16-1 1,721
3. Connecticut 16-1 1,590
4. Pittsburgh 16-1 1,569
5. North Carolina 16-2 1,510
6. Oklahoma 17-1 1,498
7. Michigan State 15-2 1,394
8. Syracuse 17-2 1,146
9. Louisville 13-3 1,090
10. Clemson 16-1 1,043
11. Marquette 16-2 1,003
12. Georgetown 12-4 979
13. UCLA 14-3 897
14. Texas 13-4 858
15. Xavier 15-2 848
16. Butler 16-1 726
17. Arizona State 15-3 671
18. Purdue 14-4 553
19. Notre Dame 12-5 469
20. Villanova 14-3 353
21. Minnesota 16-2 298
22. Memphis 14-3 208
23. Gonzaga 12-4 201
24. Florida 16-2 175
25. Illinois 15-3 159

Others Receiving Votes Baylor 148, Saint Mary's 137, Kentucky 105, California 82, Florida State 34, Kansas 23, Ohio State 20, Missouri 14, Davidson 14, Tennessee 14, Utah State 12, Washington 12, West Virginia 8, Miami (FL) 8, Arkansas 6, Michigan 5, Dayton 4, George Mason 1, LSU 1.


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