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Southern Miss.-Louisville Preview

AP - Sports

Rick Pitino hopes Louisville's first loss proves beneficial going forward.

The ninth-ranked Cardinals look to bounce back Friday night when they host undefeated Southern Mississippi.

Louisville's 21-game winning streak ended with Sunday's 93-84 loss to then-No. 24 North Carolina in the finals of the Hall of Fame Tipoff. After shooting 38.3 percent during a 71-57 semifinal win over Fairfield on Saturday, the Cardinals (5-1) made 38.8 percent of their shots despite a career-high 36 points from Russ Smith.

The Tar Heels, meanwhile, shot a season-best 54.2 percent and led by as many as 16 in the second half.

Louisville's previous defeat came in five overtimes at Notre Dame on Feb. 9. The Cardinals won their next 16 games and the national championship before opening this season with five straight victories by an average of 29.6 points.

However, North Carolina was their first true test in their first road game, and Pitino expects his humbled team to learn from the experience.

"I think this loss is really good for us," he said. "I think that last year we were one of the most humble teams. To win 16 in a row you have to have great humility, not get stuck on yourselves. And this type of defense, it was a lack of humility."

Louisville averaged 16.3 assists and committed 25 turnovers through four games but totaled 17 while turning the ball over 28 times against Fairfield and North Carolina.

Point guard Chris Jones scored 20 against the Tar Heels, but had only one assist in each game last weekend after averaging 4.3 in the first four. Smith went 6 of 13 from 3-point range.

"They clogged the lane and played that high zone so me and Russ couldn't penetrate," Jones said. "That's something we have to learn. I don't think we passed the ball as well as we have all year."

As the Cardinals try to regroup, the team is faced with another off-court distraction.

The mother of forward Chane Behanan, who had 25 points and 21 rebounds against Wichita State and Michigan in the Final Four but has averaged 8.6 and 6.2 boards this season, claims his Final Four ring that's been posted on an online auction site was stolen.

The school is looking into the situation. Behanan was suspended 26 days and missed the season opener for violating unidentified team rules.

Teammate Kevin Ware, who suffered a gruesome leg injury during the NCAA tournament, recently pleaded guilty to speeding and reckless driving from an incident last month.

The Cardinals must stay focused against Southern Mississippi, which is looking to go 7-0 for the first time since 2006. The Eagles won their first six last season before losing three in a row.

Southern Miss shot 64.1 percent (41 of 64) and hit half of its 16 3-point attempts during Sunday's 99-54 win over William Carey of the NAIA.

Temple transfer Aaron Brown is shooting 56.1 percent while averaging a team-leading 11.7 points for the Eagles, whose most significant win came by seven at DePaul on Nov. 13.

Louisville is 30-11 all-time against the Eagles, and extended its series winning streak to three games with a 107-62 victory Jan. 11, 2005.

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