Embarrassed Cards preparing for DePaul

No. 5 Louisville (18-5, 9-2) is coming off its worse loss ever under Rick Pitino and hopes to regroup Sunday afternoon against struggling DePaul (8-17, 0-12).

The Cardinals, who sailed through January with a perfect 9-0 mark, have now dropped two of three games this month, including Thursday's 90-57 beating at Notre Dame. That loss was the widest margin of defeat for a Rick Pitino coached team at Louisville.

"As I watched the tape of the game I don't think our team was ready for what they were going to encounter," Pitino said. "They were ready to play defense. They were ready to play offense but I don't think they realized how much intensity was needed to play against them."

Notre Dame had lost seven straight games before blowing out the Cardinals and in dire need of a signature win to revive their post-season hopes.

"I kept trying to tell them they were going into a hornet's nest," Pitino said. "We were going to get Notre Dame's fiercest performance of the season. This time of year that's what you get. What Notre Dame did is it prepared us for what we're going to face at Cincinnati and West Virginia."

Louisville now has dropped two of its past three games but will get two straight home games – Sunday against DePaul and Wednesday vs. Providence, before heading back on the Big East road for games at Cincinnati and Georgetown to close out February.

Earl Clark and No. 5 Louisville host
DePaul Sunday afternoon.

"We were very emotionally up for that game because we knew what was at stake trying to stay at the top of the leader board," Pitino said. "But it was just one of those nights. We didn't play really good defense, we didn't make shots, we didn't finish inside and we didn't get back in transition but they were just brilliant. We can get by this loss and play good basketball."

Pitino said his team simply needs to focus on correcting their mistakes and getting ready for the Blue Demons.

"It's embarrassing. It hurts," Pitino said. "You can't dwell on the negative. Our guys are very much embarrassed. They're very upset at the way they played. The coaching staff is very embarrassed. But we're going to correct the things we're not doing well and get ready for DePaul."

Part of Louisville's problem recently has been slow starts offensively. Against St. John's last weekend and vs. Notre Dame on Thursday, the Cardinals scored just 19 point first half points. Louisville made just 23 percent of their first half shots against the Irish and trailed 37-19 at the break – a margin that widened in the second half despite 55 percent shooting from the Cards.

"I think these slow starts are always the result of quick shots instead of running the offense," Pitino said. "There's nothing wrong with taking the first shot of your offense if it's a high percentage shot so we've got to learn that. But slow starts on the road will really hurt you when you're playing against a talented team."

Despite his team's embarrassing performance vs. Notre Dame, Pitino is confident his Cardinals will bounce back.

"We're going to be alright," Pitino said. "We're going to go into a couple more hornets nest's and we'll be more prepared this time around for that type of emotion of those much needed games by an opponent."

The Cardinals have the perfect opponent to get well against. DePaul, led by sophomore Dar Tucker and Mac Koshwal, still are seeking their first league win of the season. The Blue Demons were handled 72-49 against Seton Hall this week and visit Louisville after dropping three straight home games.

"They're a team with outstanding talent but they're young," Pitino said. "The good news is they're young and talented. The bad news is they're young. A young, talented team sometimes struggles in certain phases. When I look at the talent in this league I look at DePaul and Rutgers as having the better young talent. They are very physically talented. They haven't put it together yet and I hope they don't put it together against us."

Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPNU.

Louisville has shot a collective 33.6 (96-of-286) in its losses this season. UofL has hit 45.5 percent of its shots in 18 victories.

Terrence Williams is one of eight players in UofL history with 1,300 points and 800 rebounds. Williams needs nine more points for 1,400 career points. He ranks 25th on the all-time UofL career scoring list. Williams is currently recovering from a deep bruise on his shooting wrist suffered in practice Feb. 4.

About 50 former U of L men's basketball players are expected to be in attendance for Cardinal Basketball Lettermen Day when the Cards face DePaul on Sunday. Among those expected to be recognized at halftime of the game are Phil Bond, Corky Cox, B.J. Flynn, Bud Olsen, Phill Rollins, Marv Selvy, Derwin Webb and many more.

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