After bouncing back from its worst loss of the season, Louisville still has a chance to capture the top spot in the Big East. This would be an ideal time for another win over Providence.
The seventh-ranked Cardinals look to win their seventh straight against the Friars and remain unbeaten at home in the series Wednesday night.
Louisville (19-5, 10-2) recovered from a 90-57 loss at Notre Dame on Thursday night, beating DePaul 99-54 three days later in its highest-scoring game of the season.
Coach Rick Pitino had his team focus on basics in practice and the Cardinals responded by shooting 59.1 percent from the field (39-for-66) while making a season-high 18 3-pointers.
“We have to move forward,” said guard Preston Knowles, whose team has its sights on the Big East title. “We still have our main goal.”
Louisville is one game behind No. 1 Connecticut for the top spot in the Big East. The Cardinals have six games remaining in the regular season and the Huskies have four, with UConn owning the tiebreaker by virtue of a 68-51 win over Louisville on Feb. 2.
Three of Louisville’s last four opponents are .500 or worse in Big East play. Providence (16-9, 8-5) has been surprisingly successful this season, looking to reach nine Big East wins for the first time since going 11-5 in 2005, but it’s been over 31 years since it last beat the Cardinals.
Louisville has won six straight against Providence since a 57-51 road loss Nov. 30, 1977, and is 4-0 at home in the series. Pitino, who led the Friars to the Final Four in 1987, is 3-0 against them.
The Cardinals beat Providence 80-72 on the road Feb. 16, 2008, the only meeting between the teams last season.
Knowles had four points off the bench in that contest but is coming off the second-best scoring game of his career. The sophomore, known for his strong defensive play, had 19 points in 13 minutes versus DePaul, making a career-high five 3-pointers.
“When I’m in a zone like I don’t think I can miss, all I need is a little space to get open,” said Knowles, who is shooting 43.1 percent from 3-point range.
Knowles’ career high is 21 points in a win over Austin Peay on Dec. 13, 2008. He’s averaging just 6.1 on the season.
Reginald Delk, who usually comes off the bench along with Knowles, started in place of Terrence Williams, who is nursing an injured right wrist and had started 96 consecutive games.
Williams, averaging 12.1 points, played 15 minutes and didn’t take a shot. Delk had a career-high 10 points, one of five players who reached double figures in a dominant offensive performance.
The Cardinals were also strong on defense again, holding the Blue Demons to 34.5 percent shooting. Louisville leads the Big East in scoring defense, allowing 61.0 points a game.
Providence had shot under 40 percent in three straight losses before winning its next two. The Friars beat Rutgers 78-68 on Saturday night following a 77-62 victory over South Florida four days earlier.
Weyinmi Efejuku had a season-high 25 points against Rutgers. The senior guard, who leads the Friars with 13.7 points per game, was held to 11 or fewer in three of his previous four contests.
Efejuku was limited to 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting in his last two games against the Cardinals.