Louisville is off to one of the best starts in school history, but coach Rick Pitino knows it's far too early to get excited. Especially with another tough task awaiting in its next game.
The fourth-ranked Cardinals should be in for a challenge when they try to open with 11 straight wins for the first time in 37 years Tuesday night against the College of Charleston.
After a pair of easy victories over IUPUI and Fairleigh Dickinson, Louisville needed a late second-half surge to rally for a 95-87 win over Memphis on Saturday. The Cardinals blew a 13-point lead and trailed by five before scoring eight straight points to take control with less than 5 minutes remaining.
The victory was Louisville's 18th straight at home and put the program in position to start 11-0 for the first time since winning the first 13 of the 1974-75 season.
However, the Cardinals' early play has not been enough to satisfy Pitino.
"I think the key to success is humility," he told Louisville's official website. "I think the key to success is not hugging yourself. It's obvious that if you're 10-0 and ranked fourth in the country you're pretty darn good. We just made a rule that we won't hug ourselves."
His players feel the same way.
"We definitely still got work to do," said guard Russ Smith, who scored a career-high 24 points and recorded seven steals against Memphis. "It's still early and we've still got conference play. That's what's important."
What's important to Pitino and the Cardinals will be continued success on defense. Though Louisville allowed its most points of the season Saturday, it forced 17 turnovers and made key stops down the stretch.
Gorgui Dieng blocked a season-high six shots to go with 14 points and 14 rebounds. The 6-foot-11 sophomore has averaged 15.3 points and 12.7 boards over the last three games.
Louisville, which ranks among the national leaders giving up an average of 56.1 points on 35.4 percent shooting, likely will need another solid defensive effort Tuesday to remain undefeated.
Averaging 74.9 points and shooting 47.0 percent, Charleston (9-1) enters on a six-game win streak and already has victories at Clemson and versus Tennessee.
"We are really excited about going up there," guard Andrew Lawrence told Charleston's official website. "We will be ready for Louisville."
Trying to avoid a third straight loss to a top-five opponent since a 66-64 win over then-No. 3 North Carolina on Dec. 5, 1998, the Cougars likely need to play better than they did during a 70-68 win over Charleston Southern on Saturday to pull off an upset.
They overcame a season-high 19 turnovers as Antwaine Wiggins sank the game-winning bucket with 11 seconds left.
The 6-7 Wiggins is averaging a team-leading 18.1 points, and he's putting up 20.3 while shooting 50.0 percent (46 of 92) during the win streak.
Louisville won the only previous meeting with Charleston, 78-63 on Dec. 21, 2005, in the championship game of the Billy Minardi Classic.
This game pits two of college basketball's winningest coaches in Pitino and Bobby Cremins, who have combined for 1,185 victories. While coaching Kentucky, Pitino won three of four meetings against Cremins' Georgia Tech teams during the 1990s.
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