Cards seek another road win at Pitt

Louisville (12-5, 3-1) hopes to bounce back against Pittsburgh after a tough loss to Villanova. The Panthers have won 30 straight games at home but the Cardinals have won the last two times the teams met in Pittsburgh.

Louisville faces a tough task Saturday afternoon at Pittsburgh.

The Panthers have won 30 games in a row at home and are one of the hottest teams in the Big East, winning seven straight games, including a pair of double digit road wins over Syracuse and UConn, both ranked in the Top 15.

"Pitt is playing the best basketball along with Villanova in the Big East," Pitino said. "They present a number of problems."

Pittsburgh wasn't expected to be this good after losing DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields and Sam Young. But the Panthers have been unstoppable since Jermaine Dixon returned from injury and Gilbert Brown became academically eligible.

"When they got them back that's when they became a great basketball team," Pitino said. "When they got them back they not only became experienced they became much more explosive offensively. They execute the best in the half court in the Big East."

The Panthers are 4-0 in league play, one of two teams remaining unbeaten in the Big East this season.

"They've won 30 games in a row at home so we've certainly got a big mountain to climb," Pitino said. "They execute and play so well at home."

Louisville seems to have Pittsburgh's number on the road. The Cardinals have won the last two times they've played the Panthers at Peterson, the only team to win more than once at Pittsburgh's new arena.

"We've executed very well both times," Pitino said. "But one time was with David Padgett and the other time we were the more experienced team. The one thing you can't do is let them get out in transition. If they do you are in big trouble."

Louisville is coming off a disappointing loss at home to Villanova. The Cardinals jumped out to a 17 point first half lead against Villanova Monday night but couldn't deliver the knock out blow in a 92-84 defeat.

The Cards have out-rebounded their opponents by an average of 11 boards per game in their last nine contests and will have to be strong on the glass against a tough rebounding Pittsburgh team.

"They're a great offensive rebounding team," said Pitino. " They shot..30 percent against Connecticut and they still won the game because they had 18-19 offensive rebounds. They're guards average six rebounds."

Ashton Gibbs, a sophomore guard, leads Pittsburgh in scoring at 17.6 points per game. Louisville has been hurt this season by high scoring guards Scotty Reynolds and John Wall. Reynolds hit the Cardinals up for 36 Monday night.

"He's a combo guard and he shoots it with great range," said Pitino. "He can beat you off the dribble and they're a very good passing team. That's why they execute so well. This is a team really without a weakness. They're explosive at both ends, the rebound and screen very well. They don't have too many weaknesses that you can exploit. We've been letting too many guards have big nights."

Louisville has also struggled shooting lately. The Cardinals made only 32 percent in the loss to Villanova. Pitino said a lack of passing to the open man has led to Louisville's shooting problems. He pointed to four times against Villanova that Samardo Samuels was open but the Cardinals failed to get him the ball.

"I think passing is leading to our shooting problems," Pitino said.

3-1 in the Big East, Louisville faces a tough stretch of games to close out the month. After playing the Panthers, the Cards travel to Seton Hall, play Cincinnati at home and play West Virginia on the road.

"We've got a very rough stretch coming up," said Pitino. "We've got to continue to play good basketball. I think our greatest asset is how hard we play. I wouldn't say it's our press, our zone or our offense. What sticks out is how hard our players are willing to put out. That's good but we need to improve our defensive and offensive execution because with the game on the line we just let Reynolds have too much."


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