Lamar-Louisville Preview

BY foxsports • November 12, 2011

Rick Pitino desperately wants to win a national title at Louisville. With more players like star freshman Chane Behanan on his roster, the legendary coach believes it can happen.

Coming off a stellar collegiate debut, Behanan looks to help the ninth-ranked Cardinals build on Pitino's milestone season-opening victory Sunday against visiting Lamar.

A McDonald's All-American from nearby Bowling Green, the 6-foot-7 Behanan had 14 points and 12 rebounds in Louisville's 83-48 rout of Tennessee-Martin on Friday. It was the 600th career win for Pitino, who is more concerned with guiding the Cardinals to an NCAA championship than personal accomplishments.

The 59-year-old Pitino is the only coach to take three different schools - Providence, Kentucky and Louisville - to the national semifinals.

"I want to win a championship here badly. Badly,'' said Pitino, in his 11th season at Louisville. "It's not just the Final Four. We have the character, we have the discipline to someday get that done.

"We've just go to keep recruiting the Chane Behanans.''

Pitino had to be thrilled with the play of Behanan, who made all six of his field goal attempts, both free throws and blocked a shot in 23 minutes.

"Let's face it, when you have freshmen like that there's always the chance you can get to the Final Four and win a championship,'' Pitino said.

Pitino also has a solid, experienced supporting cast to go with Behanan.

Senior forward Kyle Kuric scored all 14 of his points in the first half and Peyton Siva added 10 with nine assists Friday as the Cardinals shot 54.4 percent and recorded 20 assists. They ranked fifth in the nation last season with 17.4 assists per game.

Louisville also forced 21 turnovers in the opener behind an aggressive full-court press and held Tennessee-Martin to 29.6 percent shooting overall.

"We played very unselfishly and very intense defense," Pitino said.

Louisville has won all three previous meetings with Lamar - also nicknamed the Cardinals - including a 78-56 home victory Dec. 8, 2008, in the most recent matchup.

Louisville forward Jared Swopshire, who scored seven points off the bench as a freshman in that contest, had eight points and five rebounds in 16 minutes Friday in his return after missing all of last season with a groin injury.

Under first-year head coach Pat Knight, Lamar looks to snap a 19-game losing streak against ranked opponents dating to a 72-64 win over then-No. 12 Louisiana Tech on Jan. 26, 1985.

Lamar, which returned four starters and 10 letterwinners from last season's 13-17 team, needed a layup from senior Anthony Miles with seven seconds remaining to help pull out a 65-62 season-opening home win over Arkansas State on Friday.

Brandon Davis scored 17 points while Miles finished with 15 and seven assists as Lamar won despite shooting 34.4 percent from the floor.

"I think it proves to them, if you play defense, no matter how bad you are offensively, you have a chance to win." Knight told the school's official website.

Miles needs six points to reach 1,000 for his career. He scored seven against Louisville in 2008.

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