MILWAUKEE – Considering what happened last week, No. 23 Louisville's loss at Marquette counted as a step forward.
Coach Rick Pitino was pleased with the Cardinals' effort in a 74-63 loss to the 21st-ranked Golden Eagles, especially coming on the heels of a 32-point setback at Providence on Jan. 10.
"I told our guys, 'Don't be down. You had a reason to be down after the Providence game because you didn't give extraordinary effort.,'" Pitino said. "If you're giving great effort, stick with your goals. Your goals are to win every home game and two road games.
"So, this one got by us. So, now we got to go get Pittsburgh. It's not going to be an easy game. Pittsburgh is starving for a win."
Louisville took an early 18-2 lead by hitting 7 of its first 12 shots, including four 3-pointers. But the Cardinals couldn't close it out.
"When we do make shots like we did in the period, we look great," he said.
Russ Smith led Louisville with 20 points and Chris Smith added 19 points and 8 rebounds. Chane Behanan had 12 rebounds for Louisville.
"Being one of the older players, you have to realize that this is their home court." Russ Smith said. "Eventually, they're going to make a run and get back in the game.
"The Big East is the Big East. You have to win when you can, scrounge for the games. We'll figure it out."
It was Marquette's (15-4, 4-2) third straight Big East win after losing consecutive games to Georgetown and top-ranked Syracuse. Darius Johnson-Odom led Marquette with 19 points and Davante Gardner added 17 points and 6 rebounds.
The team has made a habit of starting slowly in many of its Big East games.
"If the games were 33 minutes, we'd be really good," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I really like when we are us. When we are us, we're pretty good. When we are not us, we're pretty bad."
Louisville trimmed Marquette's lead to 57-53 with 8:16 remaining when Gorgui Dienge scored on a short jumper.
But Gardner scored on a driving layup and was fouled as Marquette beat Louisville's press. He hit the free throw to give Marquette a 60-53 lead with 7:36 remaining.
Louisville went cold from the field going without a field goal for almost five minutes as Marquette pulled away. Louisville hit only four field goals in the last eight minutes of the game and only six of the team's last 18 shots.
Overall, Louisville hit just 41.3 percent of its shots for the game.
NOTES: Louisville's Rakeem Buckles left the game midway through the first half with a left knee injury after getting tangled up with a Marquette player going for a rebound. He did not return to the game and was diagnosed with an hyper extended knee. Louisville G Kyle Kuric missed his second straight game after injuring his ankle on the first play of practice last Thursday. ... Marquette hit 16 of 18 from the free throw, while Louisville hit only 4 of 10.