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Pittsburgh-Louisville Preview

AP - Sports

Rick Pitino had trouble with the officials and Kyle Kuric couldn't find the basket in Louisville's last game.

Those weren't issues the last time the team faced Pittsburgh.

The 17th-ranked Cardinals can hand the struggling Panthers a fifth straight loss in Sunday's Big East rematch at the KFC Yum! Center.

Louisville (21-7, 9-6) dropped into seventh place in the conference after Thursday's 60-56 loss at Cincinnati. Pitino was upset when center Gorgui Dieng was whistled for his fourth foul with 10:54 left.

"I have a problem with the officials," Pitino said Thursday. "I felt like I was talking tonight to (former refereeing greats) Jake O'Donnell, Mendy Rudolph and Ed Rush. They thought they were the three guys going into the referee Hall of Fame the way they talked to me."

Kuric missed all 11 of his shots, marking his first time as a starter that he's failed to make at least one when he's attempted any. Pitino, though, had words of support for the senior.

"With the exception of two shots, nine of your shots were terrific shots," Pitino said. "They were mixtures of two-point shots and 3-point shots. And you just had one of those nights where the shot did not fall. That's not a big deal. But we can control our defense and what we do."

Kuric turned in his second-best scoring effort in Big East play with 21 points in a 73-62 win at Pittsburgh (15-13, 4-11) on Jan. 21. Pitino was likely happier with the officiating since Dieng had 13 points and 14 boards in 38 minutes while the Cardinals attempted 20 free throws to six for the Panthers.

What concerns the coach now is the relatively quick turnaround. Pitt has not played since last Sunday's 56-47 home loss to South Florida.

"I try to tell the team all the time the same statement - preparing to win is more important than gameday thinking about winning," Pitino said. "In preparing to win right now, we've got Pitt preparing for us in six days and us preparing for two days which means you don't know what wrinkles will come up offensively and defensively."

The Panthers have been hampered by injuries all season, with Tray Woodall battling through the flu in the latest loss.

Woodall now has a groin injury, Nasir Robinson a knee injury and Ashton Gibbs an ankle problem. All of them missed part of practice this week for a team that likely won't finish in the Big East's top 10 after being ranked 10th nationally in the preseason.

"I do believe we can get back to where we thought we would be," coach Jamie Dixon said. "We've shown some signs, but we just didn't seem to deal with guys getting reinjured or getting new injuries."

Gibbs, the preseason Big East player of the year, has totaled 10 points on 3-of-18 shooting over his last two games. Woodall, the Panthers' second-leading scorer at 12.2 points per game, has averaged 8.5 on 27.9 percent shooting during this losing streak.

"We've just got to get a good feeling about our play and what we're doing," Dixon said.

Three of the four previous matchups between Pitt and Louisville went to overtime prior to last month's game.

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