With two games remaining, Louisville has no room for error if it wants to win the Big East crown. The Cardinals can put themselves in position to do so with a victory in their home finale.
Louisville looks move into a tie atop the conference with Connecticut as it goes for its sixth straight win in a matchup with struggling Seton Hall on Wednesday night.
The sixth-ranked Cardinals (23-5, 14-2) cut top-ranked UConn’s Big East lead to a half-game Sunday with a 62-58 victory over then-No. 8 Marquette. The Huskies, who play their season finale Saturday at No. 3 Pittsburgh, beat Louisville in the teams’ only meeting this season, so the Cardinals need to win their last two games and have UConn lose to the Panthers to claim the league title.
Even if Louisville wins Wednesday, the race could be over for the Cardinals by game time Saturday, as the Huskies play at noon while Louisville takes on West Virginia that night.
Coach Rick Pitino’s team has kept the pressure on UConn by winning 15 of its last 17 games. Senior guard Andre McGee scored a team-high 16 points against Marquette and Louisville held the Golden Eagles to a season-worst 33.9 percent shooting and their second-lowest point total of 2008-09.
Marquette averages 79.3 points per game, but ran into a Cardinals squad that limits opponents to 39.2 percent from the field.
“We’ve been fighting a lot,” said Pitino, 7-1 in his career against Seton Hall. “These teams have to fight a lot and the guys are doing a great job at it.”
Terrence Williams had 14 points, eight boards and seven assists as the Cardinals won their third straight at home.
After going scoreless in 15 minutes of Louisville’s 99-54 win over DePaul on Feb. 15, Williams has bounced back from an injured right wrist to average 15.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists in the past four games.
“We want to go out as champions,” Williams said. “I’m excited about the position we’re in. We’ve been through a lot of wars and there’s a lot more basketball to play.”
Williams had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the Cardinals’ last matchup with Seton Hall, but the Pirates won 92-82 at home last Jan. 19.
Seton Hall (15-13, 6-10), which has dropped four of five after winning five in a row from Jan. 25-Feb. 10, looks for its first win in three trips to Freedom Hall. The Pirates lost 86-71 in their last visit March 4, 2007.
Seton Hall closed out the home portion of its schedule Saturday, falling 89-78 to then-No.1 Pittsburgh 89-78. The Pirates have dropped 14 of their last 15 against top 10 teams.
“We gave everything we had,” coach Bobby Gonzalez said. “They’re a great, great team and I thought we played them tough for 25, 30 minutes but we couldn’t sustain it. We hit the wall.”
Jeremy Hazell hit five 3-pointers and led the Pirates with 25 points. In last season’s win over Louisville, he made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored 29.
The sophomore guard is 11th in the nation with 22.7 points per game.
Louisville leads the series with Seton Hall 7-4.