Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Getting back to work after an eight-day hiatus, the 10th-ranked Louisville Cardinals will begin a brief two-game road swing, starting with Sunday's ACC clash with the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Petersen Events Center.
Rick Pitino's Cardinals haven't been on the floor since last weekend's 63-52 home loss to ACC power Duke. The loss was the second in the last three games for Louisville, which now sits at 15-3 overall, with a 3-2 league ledger. Currently in seventh place in the conference standings, the Cardinals will have to finish strong to make a move up the league ladder.
Jamie Dixon's Panthers are currently in a similar situation. Pittsburgh also was last in action against Duke and like Louisville, fell to the Blue Devils (79-65). The loss ended a brief two-game win streak and dropped the Panthers to an even 3-3 in the ACC, good for just ninth place at this time.
Louisville holds an 8-5 lead in the all-time series with Pittsburgh thanks to wins in each of the last four meetings. These two teams will meet again on Feb. 11 at the KFC Yum! Center.
The homecourt didn't serve Louisville well against the Blue Devils last weekend, as the Cardinals shot a miserable .295 from the floor in the 11-point loss. The team's shooting woes extended beyond the arc, where Louisville was an ugly 4-of-25 (.160). Terry Rozier led the way in defeat, finishing with 17 points. Star forward Montrezl Harrell had a strong game as well, posting a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Strong offensive performances have not been commonplace for Louisville this season, as the team's 72.6 ppg comes on a modest .427 shooting. Where the Cardinals have usually excelled is at the defensive end, where the team yields just 57.2 ppg, holding foes to .370 shooting overall and just .294 from 3- point range. In addition, Louisville is also living comfortably in terms of rebounding (+4.9) and turnover (+4.4) margins. Scoring depth comes in the form of four of five starters averaging double figures. Rozier tops the team, as the sophomore guard is netting 17.4 ppg. Harrell is the perfect complement up front. The junior forward is averaging a near double-double with 14.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per outing. Guard Chris Jones and forward Wayne Blackshear round out the potent quartet with 12.4 and 12.2 ppg, respectively.
Pittsburgh also found it difficult to match up with Duke last time out. The Panthers had a little more offensive success, shooting .450 from the field, but the Blue Devils knocked down 11 3-pointers and went a stellar 20-of-25 from the free-throw line in the 14-point decision at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The loss spoiled a terrific performance by Jamel Artis, who finished with a career-high 21 points. Chris Jones added 13 points and Michael Young finished with 11 in the setback.
The Panthers have not excelled at either end of the floor this season. The team is averaging a rather bland 67.3 ppg and doing so on .440 shooting. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is giving up 62.8 ppg on .430 shooting. There doesn't seem to be any prolific scoring threats on the roster overall. Young is shooting an efficient .514 from the floor, but leads the way with a modest 13.5 ppg. Artis has come on strong of late and has upped his scoring average to 10.5 ppg. James Robinson and Cameron Wright are just under double figures with 9.7 and 9.45 ppg, respectively.