#2 Cards look to rebound at #11 Marquette

The #2 Louisville Cardinals (18-2, 8-1) take on the #11 Marquette Golden Eagles (18-3, 9-1) Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

#2 Cards try to rebound at #11 Marquette

Date: Saturday, February 15, 2003
Time: 3:30 pm
Site: Bradley Center - Milwaukee, WI
Television: ABC
Radio: WHAS (840 AM)
Last Meeting:  Marquette won 76-64 in the 2002 C-USA Tournament
National Rankings:
   MARQUETTE     11th AP, 11th USA Today/ ESPN
   LOUISVILLE       2nd AP, 2nd USA Today/ ESPN
Significant injuries: Marquette - Travis Diener (back)  U of L - None

The #2 Louisville Cardinals enter Saturday's game against #11 Marquette on a bit of a down note after having their 17 game wining streak snapped Wednesday night in St. Louis.

The Golden Eagles, who defeated DePaul in Chicago Wednesday night enter tomorrow's contest with a half game lead on the Cards in the American Division and with a 10 game winning streak.  

The Cards dropped three games last season to the Golden Eagles, including a 76-64 setback in the C-USA tournament and seek redemption and first place in the divisional standings Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles are tough at home having won 28 straight in the Bradley Center and are led by Wooden Award Candidate Dwayne Wade and Mississippi St. transfer Robert Jackson.  Marquette is an excellent defensive team and is strong on the boards, out rebounding its opponents by five per game this season.  They are solid in all facets of the game and certainly present Louisville it's toughest challenge on the road this season.

And with a national audience watching on ABC, a top ten ranking and first place in C-USA's American division at stake, Saturday's game should prove to be nothing less than an epic clash between two great teams.  Given the fact the Cards have a bitter taste after Wednesday's loss and something to prove against the Eagles, look for the Cards to come out blazing and begin a new winning streak at Marquette, 75-70.

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

Louisville
Statistical Category

Marquette

82.8
Points
78.8
64.6
Opponent Points
66.2
+18.2
Scoring Margin
+12.6
.477
FG %
.488
.392
Opponent FG %
.401
.373
3PT FG %
.361
.280
Opponent 3PT FG %
.318
.712
Free Throw %
.763
38.5
Rebounds
36.5
34.8
Opponent Rebounds
31.5
+3.7
Rebounding Margin
+5
17.4
Assists
16.4
14.0
Turnovers
12.5
5.0
Blocks
3.5

7.2

Steals

6.4

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS

#2 Louisville Cardinals (18-2, 8-1)
Pos No. Name
Ht
Wt
Yr
PPG
RPG
APG
F 2 Ellis Myles 6-8 235 Jr.
7.8
7.9
2.0
F 32 Fancisco Garcia 6-7 185 Fr.
9.9
2.8
1.9
C 21 Marvin Stone 6-10 240 Sr.
12.1
8.1
1.5
G 5 Taquan Dean 6-3 175 Fr.
8.3
2.9
1.6
G 22 Reece Gaines 6-6 205 Sr.
18.5
2.6
5.2
#11 Marquette (18-3, 9-1)
Pos No . Name
Ht
Wt
Yr
PPG
RPG
APG
G 03 Dwayne Wade 6-5 210 Jr.
21.8
5.5
3.2
G 34 Travis Diener 6-1 165 So.
11.1
3.0
5.6
F 05 Scott Merritt 6-10 245 Sr.
9.8
7.1
1.5
F 01 Todd Townsend 6-7 215 Jr. 7.3
2.6
2.1
C 55 Robert Jackson 6-10 260 Sr.
15.9
7.5
.8

Louisville's last 5 games
 Date Opponent Result
 Wed, Jan 29 at Southern Miss W 94-65
 Sat, Feb 1 Indiana W 95-76
 Wed, Feb 5 Cincinnati W 77-71
 Sat, Feb 8 at Houston W 81-55
 Wed, Feb 12 at Saint Louis L 58-59
Marquette's last 5 games
 Date Opponent Result
 Wed, Jan 29 East Carolina W 80-48
 Sat, Feb 1 at Cincinnati W 82-76
 Wed, Feb 5 Saint Louis W 68-64
 Sun, Feb 9 Wake Forest W 68-61
 Wed, Feb 12 at DePaul W 73-60

SCOTT'S TAKE

The Cards dropped yet another game at the Savvis Center to those pesky Billiken's of Saint Louis and rumor has it that the schedule gets no easier from here.

In the midst of a February murder's row of sorts, playing 11th ranked Marquette Golden Eagles on the road is not the ideal game to get back on track after a tough loss. The Cards are hurting while the Eagles are flying high after beating Wake Forest and Depaul to take a ½ game lead in C-USA race.  And, I won't mention its on national TV, there's enough pressure here already. Then again, maybe it is the way back. We'll know soon enough.

No matter the opponent, it's gut check time now that the high octane Cardinals have had their wings finally clipped. The streak is over. A truly amazing streak considering the preseason expectations labeling the Cards as simply a "good to average club." Considering the parity in today's game, the 17 game winning streak was a remarkable accomplishment for any team.  Now its time start a new one.

Several things could happen as a result of the loss to Brad Soderberg's upstart Billiken squad. The worst-case scenario would be a complete breakdown of confidence, passion and intensity as Planet Red watches their once unbeatable Cards crumble down the stretch in complete disappointment. Forget the whippings the Cards put on Kentucky, Cincinnati and Indiana. Forget the hard fought road wins against Seton Hall, Ohio State and Tennessee.  March sees the Cards slip from a February forecasted No. 1 seed in the dance to a team that made it on the laurels of a 17 game win streak. Then when the season is said and done, the press crows that the Cardinals first 19 games were spent shacking up with Lady Luck; a fickle girl that went looking for a new roommate the night before game 20.

A Pitino team? Can't figure it to happen that way. He won't have it and Reece Gaines wants nothing to do with it.   Gaines wants this experience to last longer than his only other NCAA tournament appearance as a freshman.  That season,  the Cards posted back-to-back tournament losses (Charlotte in the C-USA, 52-57 and Gonzaga in the NCAA, 66-77) and are not forgotten by Gaines; in fact they are etched into the fierce competitors mind and used as constant motivation. Prior to last season, victories had been scarce since his high school days. He had endured a .500 record prior to Pitino's arrival (31-31) Since the coaching change, Gaines has gone a solid 37-15 to date. To his credit Reece has matured both physically and emotionally as a player since his arrival and a likely first round pick in the 2003 NBA draft. But none of that matters to him now, there's work yet to do here. He wants more. He expects more. This is the same player that willed an untalented 2001-02 squad to 19 wins and now with players around him to help, he will continue to do more than his share to get the team back to its winning ways. If history is a gauge, then it's a take it to the bank guarantee.

If this team is as good as thought before Wednesday's loss this team will recover in time for tournament play. A loss to Marquette on Saturday would be painful, but not a season killer. Marquette is playing great basketball and can beat anyone when firing on all cylinders, especially at the Bradley Center. Tom Crean's team is a solid contender for C-USA titles, both regular season and tournament and will clearly be the hardest road test to date for the Cards.

For the Cards to pull out a win, they will have to shake off the loss to St. Louis and regain the confidence and swagger they have shown this season.  How this team reacts to adversity remains to be seen but rest assured we'll find out in the next two weeks as the Cards face several stiff challenges.  The first begins tomorrow at Marquette.

TIDBITS

  • Marquette's Dwayne Wade and Louisville's Reece Gaines are finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the nation's best player
  • Marquette was 15-0 at the Bradley Center last season and is 12-0 in 2002-03
  • Louisville's 17 game winning streak was snapped Wednesday night in St. Louis, 59-58
  • The Cards are 7-1 on the road this season
  • Marquette swept the Cards last season, winning three games against the Cards
  • Marquette's Travis Diener injured his back Wednesday night at DePaul
  • Louisville will wear new black Adidas uniforms tomorrow in Milwaukee


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