9:00 PM ET, February 18, 2011
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
While Kemba Walker looks like he's back on track, one of his worst games came last month against Louisville's matchup zone.Walker will get another look at that defense Friday night when No. 13 Connecticut hits the road for a Big East rematch with the 16th-ranked Cardinals.Connecticut (20-5, 8-5) is back to receiving excellent play from Walker, a leading candidate for Big East player of the year honors. He's averaged 26.5 points, 8.5 assists and 6.5 boards in the last two games, finishing with 31, 10 and seven in a 78-70 home victory over No. 9 Georgetown on Wednesday."Kemba was Kemba," coach Jim Calhoun said. "His offense is instantaneous."Walker struggled during a 1/3 stretch that preceded the last two victories, averaging 15.5 points and 29.2 percent shooting. Those woes started during a 79-78 double-overtime loss to Louisville on Jan. 29 in which he shot 7 of 23 and had 20 points and four assists.Cardinals coach Rick Pitino's matchup zone forced the Huskies to resort to 3-pointers, and they made eight of 30 attempts. UConn shot 37.7 percent overall."Louisville gave us a great deal of problems with their matchup (zone), but they particularly gave us problems by spacing the floor exceptionally well," Calhoun said. "So we've got a lot of work to do. Our job will be to solve their matchup a little better than we did the first time and secondly, take away their fast break and their perimeter shooting."Spearheading the defensive effort was sophomore guard Peyton Siva, the Big East steals leader at 2.1 per game. Siva also had two key layups in the second overtime and finished with 19 points, seven assists and three steals."He killed us the first time," Calhoun said. "He made the difference, set up the late 3-point shots, caused us all kinds of problems."Louisville (19-7, 8-5) is 6-0 at home in Big East play, and will be looking to bounce back from a 63-54 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday.The Cardinals have been less successful on defense in five games since beating UConn, allowing opponents to shoot 47.1 percent. The Bearcats finished at 44.7."We have to come out and be tougher," forward Terrence Jennings said.Jennings was the only player to reach double figures Wednesday with 14 points as the Cardinals finished with their lowest Big East point total. Louisville was 4 for 17 on 3-pointers after making 53 over its previous six games."We weren't getting free throws, because we were pulling up too much tonight and shooting too many 3s," guard Kyle Kuric said.UConn and Louisville both have players who could prove to be bigger factors in this rematch.The Cardinals will have third-leading rebounder Gorgui Dieng available after he missed the first meeting with a head injury.UConn sophomore forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel had two points in 19 minutes in the first matchup, but he's averaged 24.5 in his last two games."Jamal's always wanted to play this year, he's even been hungry to play," Calhoun said. "He's stepped forward."Louisville has won the last three meetings to even the series at 5-all.
|Avg Points Allowed||66.4||64.6|