The 15th-ranked Cardinals look to heed Pitino and bounce back from a tough loss Saturday night when they host the Blue Demons, who try once again to snap a Big East losing streak that’s grown to 22 games.
Last Saturday, Louisville rallied for a 79-78 win in double-overtime over then-No. 5 Connecticut, handing the Huskies their first home loss this season. However, the Cardinals failed to build off that as they fell 62-59 at No. 13 Georgetown on Monday, and start play tied for third in the conference with 12th-ranked Villanova and No. 25 West Virginia.
Though Louisville (17-5, 6-3) is one of eight ranked Big East clubs, Pitino - 9-2 lifetime against DePaul with both losses coming in overtime - is expecting much more from his squad.
“I want the team to know I’m really, really upset at them for a reason,” Pitino said Monday. “I gave them a speech before the game about good-to-great, good’s the enemy of great, and I want them to understand that as you try to go up the ladder and become a good basketball team, you’ve got to hate losing, it’s got to gnaw at you.
“You can’t say, ‘Aw, but it was unbelievable, another great comeback’ and be satisfied with a comeback and a moral victory. That’s what an inexperienced team can be. They can leave the locker room and say ‘We showed great heart,’ but we’ve got to win the game.”
One player who may want to take Pitino’s words to heart is Peyton Siva. The sophomore guard had a career-high eight turnovers in 29 minutes and scored five points on 1-for-5 shooting against the Hoyas. He also missed a 3-pointer at the final horn that could have forced overtime.
Siva had shot 72 percent over the previous four games, and had two key layups in the second overtime versus UConn. He’s averaging 10.9 points, trailing only fellow guard Preston Knowles’ 14.9.
Knowles, a senior, has totaled 31 points on 70.6-percent shooting in three career games against DePaul.
There’s little reason to think Louisville won’t walk off its home court with another win over the Blue Demons. Since falling 60-58 in overtime at home to DePaul on Feb. 25, 2004, the Cardinals have taken six straight by an average of nearly 17 points.
“We’re not getting any wins right now,” said guard Brandon Young, who lead DePaul (6-15, 0-9) with 16 points. “It’s tough. It’s going to get better, though.”
Probably not against Louisville - DePaul has dropped 25 straight against ranked clubs.
Purnell, the former Clemson coach in his first season with the Blue Demons, has leaned heavily on Young and forward Melvin Cleveland. The freshman duo account for an average of 25.9 of the team’s 68.2 points.