7:00 PM ET, February 6, 2012
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
The last time Louisville and Connecticut met, the Huskies capped their remarkable five-wins-in-five-days run in the Big East tournament before going on a similar tear through the NCAA tournament.The stakes aren't nearly as high, but Rick Pitino's Cardinals aren't about to complain about their current winning streak.The 24th-ranked Cardinals look for a fifth consecutive victory Monday night when they host a Huskies team that emphatically stopped its dreadful skid in its first game without Jim Calhoun.UConn beat Louisville 69-66 in the 2011 Big East championship game, its fifth win in as many days to transform itself from practically a bubble team into a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.The Huskies' run didn't stop as they went on to win Calhoun's third national championship, while the fourth-seeded Cardinals were stunned in the first round by Morehead State.The teams have shared a similar path so far this season -- starting strong before enduring midseason struggles -- but while UConn is still trying to recover, Louisville (18-5, 6-4) may have turned the corner. Saturday's 78-66 win over Rutgers was its fourth straight after losing five of seven."A week or two weeks ago, nothing was making sense in the Big East," Pitino said. "... The dynamics keep changing. I don't know what to think. I think we showed a lot of heart and courage tonight."The Huskies (15-7, 5-5) had shown little while dropping six of eight following a 12-1 start, but they seemed to respond under assistant George Blaney on Saturday, just a day after Calhoun announced he was taking an indefinite medical leave of absence.After being held under 50 points in consecutive games, UConn had no problems scoring against Seton Hall, getting a combined 36 from Ryan Boatright and Jeremy Lamb in a 69-46 rout."We were going through some hard times as a team," said Lamb, who has shot 51.0 percent in UConn's wins and 41.1 percent in its losses. "It was a bump in the road. We was losing and people's shot was off and people were out of sync and coach Calhoun is out right now. We were going through a lot. But we had a team meeting and we came together."Lamb won't have fond memories of his freshman trip to Louisville, where he was held scoreless in 25 minutes during a 71-58 loss Feb. 18. He averaged 17.0 in the other two meetings, though, and his layup gave UConn a 65-64 lead with 33 seconds left in March at Madison Square Garden.Pitino, however, knows UConn is far from a one-man team."Obviously, they have (Shabazz) Napier and Boatright, who are two outstanding ball handlers," Pitino said. "They have (Andre) Drummond, who is the number one, two or three pick in the draft."Napier, who averages 13.3 points, has totaled 11 and missed 21 of 22 shots his last three games. He won't have it any easier against Louisville's Peyton Siva, who averaged 15.7 points, 6.0 assists and 3.7 steals against the Huskies last season.These are the Big East's two best field-goal percentage defenses -- UConn leads at 36.7 percent -- and the inside presence of Drummond and Louisville's Gorgui Dieng has a lot to do with that. Dieng has averaged 11.0 points, 10.8 boards and 4.3 blocks in his last six games, including a career high-tying seven swats against Rutgers.The sophomore is one of the few players in the nation that can match the length of Drummond, who also tied his career high with seven blocks against Seton Hall.
|Avg Points Allowed||64.1||61.2|
|» Feb 6, 2012||@LOU 80, CONN 59||Recap|