Louisville-DePaul Preview

While Louisville coach Rick Pitino said his team was crushed

following a loss to the nation’s second-ranked team earlier this

week, falling to DePaul on Saturday at Allstate Arena seems like it

would be far more devastating.

The 19th-ranked Cardinals look to bounce back from their first

loss in a month and continue their dominance over the lowly Blue

Demons, who are mired in a 36-game losing streak to Top 25


Louisville (20-6, 8-5 Big East) seemed poised to upset No. 2

Syracuse on Monday, leading by five with 3:38 remaining, but the

Orange would score the game’s final six points and hand the

Cardinals a 52-51 loss.

“There are no moral victories,” Pitino said. “We are crushed

with this loss – absolutely crushed. We didn’t get the job done

when we should have. The only thing that will erase this loss is to

beat them up there.”

While winning at the Carrier Dome on March 3 will be a tall

order for Pitino’s team, it shouldn’t have trouble earning a

victory at Allstate Arena.

The Cardinals defeated the Blue Demons 76-59 at home on Jan. 14

and have won 21 of the last 23 meetings. They’ve won eight straight

in the series since a 60-58 overtime loss in 2004, when both teams

were in Conference USA.

DePaul (11-14, 2-11), in 15th place in the 16-team Big East, has

lost 36 straight to ranked opponents since an 84-76 victory over

then-No. 17 Villanova on Jan. 3, 2008.

A major reason for the Blue Demons’ struggles is their defense

allowing 76.2 points per game, worst of the 74 schools in the six

BCS conferences. Facing a DePaul defense surrendering an average of

82.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting during a five-game losing

streak could be just what Louisville needs after being stymied by

Syracuse’s zone.

Against the Orange, the Cardinals shot 34.7 percent, including 5

of 19 from beyond the arc, to finish with their lowest scoring

output of the season. They averaged 75.3 points in winning their

previous six games.

Freshman Chane Behanan led the way against Syracuse with 16

points on 7-of-8 shooting, but senior Kyle Kuric, who averages a

team-best 12.8 points, scored three and went 1 for 8 from the


Russ Smith and Chris Smith, who combine to average 22.4 points,

totaled 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting Monday but had no problems

hitting shots against DePaul last month.

Russ Smith scored 25 while Chris Smith added 20 points and made

four 3-pointers for the Cardinals, who shot 50.9 percent and

outrebounded the Blue Demons 41-33.

Louisville also did a good job of shutting down Cleveland

Melvin, limiting the conference’s third-leading scorer to eight

points on 3-of-11-shooting.

Melvin, who averages 17.8 points, had another tough night in

Wednesday’s 80-54 loss to Connecticut, DePaul’s 10th defeat in 11

games. The 6-foot-8 sophomore missed 9 of 14 shots to finish with

11 points.

“When he got the ball there were three guys eyeballing him, if

not four,” coach Oliver Purnell said. “That’s happening now and

it’s going to continue to happen.”

The lack of other good scoring threats has plagued Melvin and

the Blue Demons. Second-leading scorer Brandon Young has been

struggling, averaging 8.0 points on 27.6 percent shooting over his

last seven games.

Young was the only DePaul player to score in double figures in

the first matchup against Louisville with 14 points, but he was 5

for 16 from the field as the team shot 34.3 percent.

The Cardinals lead the Big East in field-goal percentage defense

at 37.1.