St. John's (15-13) at (17) Louisville (19-8)

Light Rain Currently: Louisville, KY
Temp: 36° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Wed Feb 21, 2007
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Jerry Smith’s game-winning shot highlighted a big week for Louisville and secured the Cardinals’ first appearance in the Top 25 this season.

The No. 20 Cardinals (19-8, 9-4 Big East) will play as a ranked team for the first time since last January when they host St. John’s on Wednesday night.

Louisville did not receive any votes in the previous two polls, but moved into the rankings Monday after defeating a pair of Top 25 teams on the road last week. The Cardinals, winners of three straight and seven of nine, also jumped into third place in the Big East.

After losing 13 straight against Top 25 opponents, Louisville won 66-53 at then-No. 7 Pittsburgh on Feb. 12 and 61-59 at then-No. 12 Marquette on Saturday.

Smith, a freshman from the Milwaukee area, made a 3-pointer as time expired to beat Marquette. It gave Louisville two road wins over ranked opponents for the first time since 1996-97.

“I’m just speechless,” said Smith, who scored all nine of his points on 3-pointers in the final 3:04. “I never dreamed about this.”

Smith is averaging 8.6 points in 27 games—10 starts. He’s playing nearly 22 minutes per contest.

“This is the best homecoming that he could ever imagine, hitting the game-winning shot in his hometown,” said Louisville guard Edgar Sosa, who had 15 points Saturday. “Everyone’s loving him right now.”

Louisville, ranked as high as No. 4 in 2005-06 in its first season in the Big East, lost 10 of its final 15 games and settled for an NIT berth after reaching the Final Four in 2004-05. The Cardinals started 5-4 this season, but appear to be gaining momentum.

Louisville has played solid defense in the last month, holding six of its last nine opponents below its season average of 62.6 points allowed per game. The Cardinals have limited their last three opponents to under 45 percent shooting.

Louisville has also been able to overcome a lack of production from leading scorer Terrence Williams. The sophomore forward averages 11.8 points per game, but has totaled just 30 in his last five contests and went scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting against Marquette.

St. John’s (15-12, 6-8) has lost two of its last three games, both on the road, the latest being a 71-66 defeat at Providence on Saturday. The Red Storm are 2-6 away from home, with their only conference road win coming against Cincinnati on Feb. 4.

Leading scorer and rebounder Lamont Hamilton scored 20 points and had nine rebounds for St. John’s on Saturday. The 6-foot-10 senior is averaging 13.6 points and 6.7 boards.

The Red Storm are 11th in the Big East, one game ahead of Connecticut, and in position to qualify for the 12-team conference tournament.

“The Big East tournament is a huge goal, but there are a lot of things we are trying to achieve,” coach Norm Roberts said. “We want to win more games than we did before. We want to improve our abilities on the court, improve our talent level. There are a lot of goals we are trying to get to and this is just one of them.”

St. John’s is 1-4 against Top 25 teams, with its only win coming by a 71-68 score over then-No. 22 Notre Dame on Jan. 23.

Louisville leads the series with St. John’s 4-3. The Red Storm, though, won 68-56 at home in the most recent meeting Jan. 17, 2006.

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