Marquette-Louisville Preview

Louisville and Marquette are the top two offenses in the Big
East, so it’s not surprising each team’s coach is counting on his
defense to be the difference Saturday morning when the conference
rivals meet at the KFC Yum! Center.

The 18th-ranked Cardinals (13-3, 2-1) average a Big East-leading
81.3 points while Marquette (12-5, 3-1) trails close behind at 80.7
per game. The teams have done it in contrasting styles, with
Louisville using an up-tempo attack with a conference-best 152
3-pointers and Marquette in a more disciplined structure that has
it second in the Big East at 49.9 percent shooting.

“They’ve got outstanding shooters and can put out five really
good shooters on the floor together,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino
said. “Anytime you can beat somebody off the bounce and then also
shoot it that well, very difficult to defend.”

Louisville is trying to regroup after an 88-74 defeat at No. 7
Villanova on Wednesday in which the Cardinals were outrebounded
41-23 and outscored 42-24 in the paint, negating a 12-for-25 effort
from 3-point range. The lack of interior presence is a concern
Pitino is trying to address without injured forwards Jared
Swopshire and Raheem Buckles.

“It’s a problem, but I think every team has an Achilles’ heel
except the great ones,” said Pitino, whose team has been
outrebounded by an average of 16.3 in its losses.

“It’s a matter of liking contact. We don’t have frontcourt
people that enjoy contact with the exception of Stephan Van Treese.
We continue to work on blocking out. Certain guys don’t like to get
hit, certain guys like to hit.”

Preston Knowles, who hit six 3-pointers and finished with 24
points Wednesday, is shooting 42.1 percent from beyond the arc and
averaging a team-high 15.5 points. Guard Mike Marra, second on the
team with 26 3-pointers made, will also miss this game due to
injury.

The Golden Eagles are trying to beat a second consecutive ranked
opponent after failing to do so in four opportunities during
non-conference play. Marquette finally broke through Monday with a
79-57 rout of No. 9 Notre Dame as Dwight Buycks hit five 3-pointers
and finished with a career-high 21 points.

While Marquette made 12 of 17 from 3-point range, it limited the
Fighting Irish to 39.6 percent shooting. The Golden Eagles let the
previous four Top 25 teams shoot 51.1 percent and average 78.5
points.

“When we can score a larger percentage of our points from our
secondary and primary (offense), we’re much better,” coach Buzz
Williams said. “And the only way we can do that is to get stops,
preferably consecutive stops.”

Darius Johnson-Odom leads the team with 15.7 points per game and
has found his groove with the start of conference play, averaging
20.8 points and shooting 51.8 percent in his last four games.
Forward Jae Crowder has scored 18.0 points per game in the Big
East, raising his season average to 13.0.

Marquette snapped a four-game losing streak to Louisville with a
69-48 home win last season when Johnson-Odom hit four 3-pointers
and scored 22 points. Knowles went scoreless in 11 minutes off the
bench as the Cardinals failed to have any players reach double
figures.