Opportunity knocks for Louisville

Needing a signature win to boost their NCAA Tournament resume, Louisville has a big opportunity to get one this Saturday on the road against nationally-ranked West Virginia. The Cardinals are coming off a key win over Cincinnati and have several positives to build on.

Louisville might have played its best overall game this season in Sunday's 68-60 win against Cincinnati. It was an important victory for the Cardinals, who snapped a three-losing streak against the Bearcats.

Rick Pitino made a key lineup switch against Cincinnati, inserting Terrence Jennings into the starting lineup alongside Samardo Samuels. That move paid off in a positive way for the UofL coach and he's planning to stick with his big lineup in his team's next game at West Virginia.

"We're going to use it more," Pitino said. "We've got to get better at it. There are a lot of weaknesses because [Jennings] doesn't know certain things we do, but we're going to stick with it now and just get better at it. We can always substitute the other way. I'm not going to change after a victory no matter what West Virginia does."

Now, the Cardinals have all week to prepare for a highly critical road trip to West Virginia this Saturday. Louisville will enter the game against the Mountaineers 13-7 overall, and 4-3 in Big East play. And while they find themselves currently outside the NCAA Tournament bubble, a win over nationally-ranked West Virginia would give the Cardinals their best quality win of the season. With only eleven regular-season games remaining, Pitino is not shy discussing what his team must do to earn a spot in the NCAA's.


Terrence Jennings' presence should help free Samuels inside.
"Now, we have to [win] 7-for-11," Pitino said. "With each Big East victory, it gets more and more positive."

Louisville will look to build on these positive developments from the Cincinnati game:

# Reggie Delk registered his first career double-double against Cincinnati with 13 points and 11 rebounds. With the Bearcats forced to deal with Louisville's big man duo inside, Delk was free to slip to the glass and haul down a career-high rebounding total. Delk also hit 5-6 shots, including 3-4 three's, providing the Cardinals a much needed offensive presence at small forward.

# Louisville's big lineup of Terrence Jennings and Samardo Samuels proved successful against Cincinnati, especially on defense. The Cards had struggled on defense in three straight losses, but Louisville held the Bearcats to just 43 percent shooting. Jennings blocked two shots and made two steals. Jennings and Samuels combined for 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three steals.

# Peyton Siva played a larger role against the Bearcats and delivered his best overall performance this season. In 12 minutes, the freshman guard scored 10 points and dished three assists without a turnover. He also turned up the heat on defense, making three steals that led to easy baskets for the Cardinals in transition. Look for Siva's role to continue to expand as the season moves forward.

# After a few shaky performances, Edgar Sosa delivered the type of performance Louisville must have if it hopes to win enough games down the stretch to make the NCAA Tournament field. Louisville's most experienced guard hit 50 percent of his shots, made all of his free throws, had three steals on defense and made only one turnover offensively. Sosa has proven Louisville's most reliable outside shooter this season and it will be interesting to see if Pitino will experiment more with a Siva-Sosa lineup in the season's final month.


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