Louisville v. West Virginia
Saturday, March 5
Morgantown, W.Va. (14,000)
Radio: WHAS 840-AM
Regular Season Finale in Morgantown
U of L takes to the road for its final regular season game of the season as the Cardinals visit Morgantown, W. Va. to face West Virginia for the second time this season on Saturday. Louisville clinched a double-bye in next week's BIG EAST Championship with an 87-60 victory over Providence on Senior Night. The Mountaineers (19-10, 10-7) have won four of their last six, including a 65- 56 win over Connecticut in Morgantown on Wednesday in their last game as Joe Mazzulla scored 18 points for WVU
University of Louisville (23-7, 12-5) - Projected Starters
RESERVES: Gorgui Dieng, C, 6-10, Fr.; Chris Smith, F, 6-5, Jr.; George Goode, F, 6-8, Sr.; Tim Henderson, G, 6-2, Fr.; Elisha Justice, G 5-10, Fr.; Russ Smith, G, 6-0, Fr.; Stephan Van Treese, F, 6-9, So.
HEAD COACH: Rick Pitino (UMass '74) 243-93 in 10th yr. at Louisville, 595 -217 in 25th yr. overall
RESERVES: Casey Mitchell, G, 6-4, 220, Sr.; Jonnie West, G, 6-3, 195, Sr.; Kenny Ross, G, 6-0, 175, Fr.; Deniz Kilicli, F, 6-9, 270, So.; Craig Carey, G, 6-2, 160, So.; Jake Ferguson, F, 6-6, 190, Fr.; Kerwin Selby, G, 6-4, 210, Jr.; Danny Jennings, F, 6-8, 260, So.; Dalton Pepper, G, 6-5, 230, So.; Kevin Noreen, F, 6-10, 235, Fr.
HEAD COACH: Bob Huggins (WVU '77) 99-40 in 4th year at WVU; 689-251 in 29th year overall
About West Virginia
U of L takes to the road for its final regular season game of the season as the Cardinals visit Morgantown, W.Va. to face West Virginia for the second time this season on Saturday. The Mountaineers (19-10, 10-7) have won four of their last six, including a 65-56 win over Connecticut in Morgantown on Wednesday in their last game as Joe Mazzulla scored 18 points for WVU.
Senior guard Casey Mitchell has produced the biggest scoring increase from last season among BIG EAST Conference players, improving from a 3.7 average as a junior to 14.4 ppg game this season, 13th in the league. Senior guard Joe Mazzulla has the second-best assist-to-turnovers ratio in the BIG EAST (2.62). WVU leads the BIG EAST and is fourth nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense (.284).
Louisville has an 8-3 series advantage over West Virginia and has won five of the last six, including a 55-54 victory in the KFC Yum! Center earlier this season (Jan. 26). The Cardinals fell 74-77 on their last visit to Morgantown a year ago (1/30/10). West Virginia is No. 18 in the Sagarin Ratings and No. 17 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) through March 2.
Series vs. West Virginia
Louisville leads West Virginia 8-3 in the series which dates back to 1959. The Cardinals have won five of the last six meetings.
Louisville overcame a 12-point second-half deficit and an 11-point halftime trailer (37-26) to defeat West Virginia 55-54 on Peyton Siva's driving scoop shot off the glass with 4.5 seconds remaining. A crucial 13-0 second-half run covering 8:20 allowed Louisville to turn an 11-point deficit (42-31) into a two-point cushion. WVU shot 18.2 percent (4-for-22) from the field in the second half, scoring 17 points. Joe Mazzulla led the Mountaineers with 18 points, all in the first half. Chris Smith scored 15 to lead U of L.
U of L and West Virginia met once in the BIG EAST Tournament in New York's Madison Square Garden with Louisville prevailing 82-71 in double overtime (3/8/07). A driving layup by Edgar Sosa as time expired in regulation sent the game into the first overtime period, and Louisville scored the first nine points of the second overtime period to pull away for the victory.
Five years ago in the NCAA Albuquerque Regional championship, Louisville overcame a 20-point deficit and an incredible shooting performance by its opponent to outlast West Virginia 93-85 in overtime (3/26/05) to advance to the Cardinals' eighth Final Four. The combined 29 three-point goals by the two teams (Louisville 11-of-28, West Virginia 18-of-27) was an NCAA Tournament record. Larry O'Bannon, the Most Outstanding Player of the region, scored all 24 of his points in the second half and overtime period. Louisville scored on 19 of its final 25 possessions, tying the game for the first time on its next-to-last possession in regulation. Taquan Dean scored 23 points and hit seven three-point goals, a UofL record for an NCAA Tournament game.
The teams first met in the 1959 NCAA Final Four as West Virginia defeated Louisville 94-79 in the national semifinals played in Louisville's Freedom Hall (3/20/59). Jerry West poured in 38 points to lead the Mountaineers. Don Goldstein led U of L with 21 points and nine rebounds.
Rick Pitino is 7-2 against West Virginia. He has a 6-2 mark vs. WVU while at U of L and his 1991-92 Kentucky team beat the Mountaineers 106-80 (11-20-91). Pitino has a 10-5 record against teams coached by WVU Coach Bob Huggins (1-0 Kentucky vs. Cincinnati; 5-4 Louisville vs. Cincinnati; 4-1 Louisville vs. West Virginia).
Saturday's game will pit two of the nation's top active winningest coaches. West Virginia's Bob Huggins ranks 10th among active coaches in winning percentage, winning 73.3 percent of his games in 29 seasons (689-251 at Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati and West Virginia), while UofL's Rick Pitino has won 73.3 percent of his games in his 25th collegiate season (595-217), 11th best among active coaches.
Knowles Approaching 1,000 Points
Senior guard Preston Knowles is within 54 points of scoring 1,000 career points at Louisville. The Cardinals have 62 career 1,000-point scorers all-time, second in the nation behind North Carolina (63).
Louisville has a 10-3 record in regular season games in March over the last seven years (since 2005). Add in another closing month of February and the Cardinals are 42-15 in those two months in the last seven years during the regular season (.737). Over the past seven years (since 2005), Louisville has a collective 31-13 record during the month of March (.705). U of L coach Rick Pitino has a collective 99-35 collegiate record in the month of March (.739), including a 42-20 record at Louisville. U of L has won 29 of its last 35 games during the month of February dating back to the 2006-07 season (5-2 this year).
Senior Day for Knowles, Goode
U of L's current senior class - Preston Knowles and George Goode - have helped the Cardinals win 101 games over the last four years (101-35 record, .743) and have been a part of two NCAA Tournament Elite Eight squads.
It was Senior Day for the Cardinals when Louisville closed its home schedule in the KFC Yum! Center with an 87-60 victory over Providence on March 2. Knowles capped his home career with his first career double-double, producing 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. It was just the 12th time in the last 25 years that a U of L player produced as many as 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game. Goode had four points and two rebounds in a starting role. Louisville has won its last 10 straight Senior Day games.
Another Double-Digit Comeback in Last Meeting vs. WVU
Louisville overcame a 12-point second-half deficit and an 11-point halftime trailer (37-26) to defeat West Virginia 55-54 on Peyton Siva's driving scoop shot off the glass with 4.5 seconds remaining. Louisville had not overcome a bigger halftime deficit since the Cards rallied from 13 down at the break to defeat the Mountaineers in overtime in a memorable 2005 Elite Eight game. The last time U of L erased a bigger halftime spread to win in regulation: March 20, 1994, when Minnesota led 34-22 at the break before U of L won 60-55 in the NCAA Tournament second round.
A crucial 13-0 second-half run covering 8:20 allowed Louisville to turn an 11-point deficit (42-31) into a two-point cushion. WVU missed 10 shots during the run, with the Cards collecting the rebound after each of the first eight misfires. Louisville held the Mountaineers without a field goal for a stretch of 13:40 from the beginning of the 13-0 run until the game clock read 1:30. WVU missed 13 straight shots during that span. WVU shot 18.2 percent (4-for-22) from the field in the second half, scoring 17 points.
The 17 points were the fewest in a half for a U of L conference opponent since USF scored 15 in the first half of an 85-40 Cardinal win on Jan. 10, 2004. Louisville held a league foe to fewer than 20 second-half points for the first time since Jan. 22, 1983, when Southern Miss managed just 17 points in the latter half of a 63-48 U of L victory.
Louisville's last four opponents have each scored 60 or fewer points, a first for Louisville since Dec. 14-27, 2004 (five straight). Louisville has held four consecutive league foes to 60 points or less for the first time since March 7, 1981-Jan. 7, 1982 and it's a first for conference regular season opponents ... With its victory over Pitt, Louisville has defeated four consecutive AP top-five opponents for the second time in school history and first since 1956 ... Louisville has averaged just 9.5 turnovers over the last four games ... Louisville has recorded 23 or more victories five times in the last seven years and six times in the past nine ... U of L is 6-1 this season in games decided by four points or less, losing only to Georgetown on Jan. 31 (61-57) ...
Buckles Out For Season
Rakeem Buckles suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee in the first half of the Cardinals' victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday and will be out for the remainder of the season. He will have surgery within the next two weeks and his timetable for recovery will be determined after surgery.
Buckles had been back for the last five games, returning to action for the first time in six weeks against Syracuse on Feb. 12 after he had missed 12 games. He broke his left index finger during practice on Dec. 30 and had surgery to repair the injury that day, which included the insertion of five pins. He missed the Cardinals' games against Kentucky and their first 11 BIG EAST games.
At the time he broke his finger, Buckles was leading the Cardinals and ranked ninth in the BIG EAST Conference in rebounding, averaging 7.5 per game, and was averaging 8.2 points this season. He finished averaging 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds. He also suffered a concussion this year.
Cards Have Nine Straight 20-Win Seasons
Louisville's victory over Connecticut on Feb. 18 gave the Cardinals another 20-win season, their ninth straight.
Louisville is one of nine Division I schools in the nation which have won 20 or more games in each of the past nine seasons. Kansas tops the list with 22 consecutive years, followed by Duke (15), Syracuse (14), Gonzaga (14), Florida (13), Texas (12), Utah State (12), Pittsburgh (10) and the Cardinals (8).
U of L Coach Rick Pitino has won at least 20 games in a season on 19 occasions, ranking him sixth among active coaches in 20-win seasons and 15th overall. The Cards have won at least 19 games in 38 of the last 42 years.