After once struggling to defend the 3-point line, Connecticut is much improved in that department. That could be bad news for a Louisville team that used strong perimeter efforts to beat the Huskies twice last season.
The fifth-ranked Huskies will try to extend their win streak to seven when they face the No. 23 Cardinals at Gampel Pavilion on Saturday.Connecticut (17-2, 5-2) ranked 14th in the Big East in 3-point field-goal percentage defense through Jan. 7 at 35.7. The Huskies, 11-0 at home, have since limited six foes to 28.7 percent from beyond the arc for the third-best mark.Louisville shot 43.5 percent on 3-pointers in two victories over UConn in 2009-10, making 10 in each contest. The Cardinals, though, have made 25.5 percent of their 3s (12 for 47) in the last two games.On defense, Louisville (16-4, 5-2) will look to slow down Big East scoring leader Kemba Walker, averaging 23.4 points after scoring 14.6 a game last season as a sophomore. Walker averaged 21.5 points and 38.7 percent shooting against the Cardinals in 2009-10."I loved him in high school and he's just gotten better with each year," coach Rick Pitino said. "He considered going pro last year and (UConn coach Jim Calhoun) gave him the right advice to stay in school and now he's playing himself into the lottery."Walker's lowest point totals have been in his last two games -- 16 in a 72-61 win over Tennessee last Saturday and 14 in a 76-68 victory at Marquette on Tuesday. He's made up for it with two of his best passing games, recording seven assists against the Volunteers and nine versus the Golden Eagles."Kemba made the biggest adjustment of all. Early he wanted to get us off to a good start, then when that wasn't working, he tried to feed everybody," Calhoun said Tuesday. "His personality and character is what helps make this team go every single day."While Walker is shooting 33.3 percent over his last three games, freshman Jeremy Lamb has benefited from the extra attention afforded the UConn star. Lamb is averaging 18.0 points -- 9.1 above his average -- and 58.3 percent from the field in the last three games.Louisville is facing a difficult two-game road trip, as it takes on No. 21 Georgetown on Monday. The Cardinals will be without freshman center Gorgui Dieng for both games after he landed on his head in Wednesday's contest."This is a big blow for us defensively because we're not the same team without him," Pitino said.The Cardinals avoided consecutive losses for the first time with a 55-54 win over West Virginia on Wednesday. Peyton Siva's basket with 4.5 seconds remaining provided the difference.Siva made all five shots and scored 14 points, but backcourt mate Preston Knowles missed 13 of 16 shots and finished with 10. Knowles has 12 points in his last two games after averaging 22.0 in his previous three.The matchup between Walker and Siva figures to be a good one.The point guards lead the conference in steals, with Siva at 2.3 per game and Walker at 2.1. The 5-foot-11 Siva is the only Big East player under 6 feet who has been a regular starter and is shooting over 50 percent.