With 4 regular season games remaining for the Cards, every game in important in the Big East race. After starting out 2-4 in the conference, it was hard to imagine that the 17th ranked Louisville Cardinals (21-6, 9-5) would be in a position to possibly get a double-bye in the Big East Tournament. The next step is a tough road game tonight against the rival Cincinnati Bearcats (19-8, 9-5).
Louisville enters the game winning 7 of their last 8 contests, with the only loss being by 1 point to #2 Syracuse (28-1, 15-1). Their last game was a 90-82 overtime victory at DePaul (11-16, 2-13) on Saturday. In that game, Kyle Kuric had 25 points, Chris Smith had 20 points, and Russ Smith had 16 points. It was a battle for the Cards, as they had to come back from 17 points down to fight off a hungry DePaul team. Tonight, the Cards will surely face another hungry team in a hostile environment. Cincinnati has planned a blackout for the fans tonight, and with it being a late game on ESPN, the crowd will be fired up.
Cincinnati comes into the game in need of a signature win to help their NCAA Tournament resume. They do have wins over UConn (17-10, 7-8) and Georgetown (20-6, 10-5), but they also have bad losses to Rutgers (12-16, 4-11), St. John’s (12-16, 5-10), Marshall (17-10, 8-5 in C-USA), and Presbyterian (12-15, 6-10 in Big South). Of those 4 losses, only Rutgers was on the road, so those other losses were on their home floor.
An interesting matchup to keep an eye on will be the battle down low between Chane Behanan and Yancy Gates. Behanan is from Cincinnati, and actually committed to play for the Bearcats as a freshman in high school. So he will probably hear it from the fans already because of that. Hopefully that does not bother him, because he will have enough to worry about with the 6’9 260 pound Gates, who averages 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Gates is a fierce competitor and uses his big body very well, but he does let his attitude get the best of him sometimes. He was suspended for 6 games earlier this season for his role in the team brawl at Xavier.
UofL leads the overall series with Cincinnati 53-41, but the Bearcats have won the last 2 meetings. Cincinnati is Louisville’s most played rivalry, as this will be the 95th time the teams have met. They are coached by Mick Cronin, who was an assistant to Coach Pitino at UofL from 2001-2003. He then guided Murray State to a 69-23 record in 3 seasons before taking the job at Cincinnati.
Most Played All-Time
Team Games W-L
1. Cincinnati ….. 94 53-41
2. Memphis …….. 86 52-34
3. Western Ky. …. 75 36-39
4. Eastern Ky. ….. 73 51-22
5. Georgetown … 70 51-19
Entering tonight’s game, Gorgui Dieng has 90 blocks for the season. The most in a season at UofL is 102, set by Pervis Ellison in the 1987-88 season. Dieng leads the Big East and is 8th in the country in blocks, averaging 3.3 per game. There have been 8 times where a player had back-to-back 5 block games for the Cards. Gorgui Dieng has 4 of those, with 3 of them coming this season. He also has 10 double-doubles this season, which is 3rd in the Big East. If you never read the interview that Dieng gave us, check it out now.
The game tips at 9:00 PM and will be shown on ESPN, with Mike Patrick and Len Elmore calling the action. It can also be heard on WHAS 840 AM with Paul Rogers and Bob Valvano.
Record ………………….. 19-8 21-6
Scoring Average …….. 70.1 71.7
Points Allowed ……….. 61.5 62.6
Scoring Margin ……….. +8.6 +9.1
FG Percentage ……….. .426 .436
Opp. FG Percentage .. .415 .376
3-Pt. Percentage …….. .360 .328
FT Percentage ……….. .641 .681
Rebound Margin …….. +1.1 +2.9
Turnover Margin ……… +3.4 +0.9