This will be the 17th meeting between the Cardinals and Friars. Louisville holds an 11-5 advantage in the all-time series coming into tonight after an 87-60 victory in the last meeting on March 2nd, 2011.
Head coach Rick Pitino's Cardinals began the year 12-0 which was the team's best start since 1974-1975. Louisville has struggled since, going 1-3 with close losses to Georgetown, Kentucky, and Notre Dame. Its only recent win came over St. John's on January 3rd. The 67-65 double-overtime loss to Notre Dame dropped the Cardinals to a 13-3 overall record and a 1-2 mark in the Big East. The Cardinals blew a seven-point lead in the final minutes to Notre Dame and will need to close games out better as conference play continues. Louisville has one of the most frustrating defenses in the nation as it is ranked fourth in the conference with just 59.2 points allowed per game.
Kyle Kuric is the leading scorer for Louisville with an average of 13.1 ppg. The senior swingman had scored in double figures in nine of the last ten games and on 13 different occasions this season. Kuric played all 50 minutes in the double-overtime loss to Notre Dame on Saturday. Russ Smith had been developing nicely in his sophomore year before the battle with the Fighting Irish. Smith was missing from the Cardinals' offense Saturday. After averaging 20 points in his last seven games, Smith went 1 of 9 from the field and scored 3 points. Gorgui Deng is a solid low post player for the Cardinals with 10.3 ppg and a team-best 9.4 rpg from the center slot. Peyton Siva does a nice job distributing with 5.9 apg.
Providence comes in with an 11-6 record after losing 66-57 to Seton Hall on Saturday. The loss was the fourth in a row as the Friars are 0-4 since entering Big East play. The Friars did not play poorly on either end of the floor against Seton Hall as they made 43.1 percent of their shots from the floor, and also held the Pirates to 34.3 percent shooting from the field. Ball handling and rebounding were issues as Providence committed 17 turnovers and was outboarded 44-29. The Friars are outscoring their opponents by a margin of 3.6 ppg, which ranks second to last in the Big East.
Providence is led by its star point guard Vincent Council. The 6-2 junior is leading the team with 16.5 ppg and is second in the Big East with 6.6 assists per outing. Council scored 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the floor in the loss to Seton Hall. Gerard Coleman is thriving playing beside Council. Coleman is second on the team in scoring with 15.1 ppg, but managed just 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting his last time out. Bryce Cotton rounds out the three-guard attack of the Friars with 13.9 ppg. LaDontae Henton is the team's best low post player. Henton is contributing 12.2 ppg and a fourth-best in the Big East 9.2 rpg.