With a week since its last game, Louisville at least won’t have to worry about fatigue this time.
The well-rested Cardinals look to rebound from their second loss of the season as they host UAB on Saturday afternoon.
Down to No. 19 in the latest AP poll after being ranked third a month ago, Louisville (7-2) is coming off a 70-64 defeat to then-unranked Minnesota last Saturday at the Stadium Shootout in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated Mississippi less than 48 hours earlier in Cincinnati and didn’t arrive in Arizona until the early morning hours on Friday.
“The trip from hell didn’t stop us,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
His team’s shooting did. The Cardinals hit 37.7 percent from the field, including a 4-of-17 effort from 3-point range. Louisville is averaging 77.9 points this season, but is shooting 43.8 percent from the floor - 167th in the nation.
Starting guard Edgar Sosa was benched in the second half after shooting 2-of-6 for four points and committing two turnovers in 18 minutes. Senior Terrence Williams scored a team-high 17 points, but missed nine of 15 shots and is shooting 38.9 percent this season.
Earl Clark posted his fifth double-double in seven games with 16 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday but hit 4-of-12 from the field.
After his starters shot a combined 17-of-46 versus Minnesota, Pitino said he’d be making adjustments to the lineup “to try to get a little more offense into our game.”
Louisville might need that on Saturday as it faces a UAB team that is coming off its best defensive effort of the season. The Blazers (8-3) held Florida Atlantic to 28.6 percent shooting and tied a season high with nine steals in a 76-43 win on Monday.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, had as many turnovers (15) as field goals with six minutes left Saturday. They’ve committed a season-high 16 turnovers and shot below 39 percent from the field in back-to-back games.
“I’ve known from day one that we have talent, we have potential, but we’re not executing,” Pitino said.
His team ranks eighth in the nation in field goal defense at 35.9 percent, but could be tested by a UAB team that shot a season-best 53.2 percent from the field on Monday. The Blazers are hitting 48.9 percent during their three-game winning streak.
UAB returns to Freedom Hall on Saturday for the first time since defeating Kentucky 79-76 on Dec. 15, 2007. Robert Vaden scored 28 of his 33 points in the second half of that game, and this season, the senior swingman is averaging a team-best 19.4 points.
In Monday’s victory, Vaden scored just 12 points, but the Blazers had four players in double figures as they posted their largest margin of victory since defeating Alabama A&M 91-48 on Dec. 4, 2007.
Senior Paul Delaney III had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists on Monday, while Lawrence Kinnard posted his fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 boards.
“This was a good victory in many ways,” said UAB coach Mike Davis, whose team is 3-1 on the road this season with wins at Troy, Arizona and Old Dominion. “We had a chance to play some guys who needed to get some playing time and also had a chance to give some of our starters a little rest.”
Louisville has won five straight against UAB, dating to the first round of the 2001 Conference USA tournament, and leads the series 11-4. In the teams’ last meeting on March 11, 2005, the Cardinals defeated the Blazers 74-67 in the C-USA tournament semifinals.
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