Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Louisville Cardinals
Tip-off: Monday, January 28, 2013 – 7:00 PM ET
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
The Louisville Cardinals went from being No. 1 in the country to the verge of their longest losing streak in nearly nine years and now have coach Rick Pitino promising online sports betting fans that tonight’s game versus the Pittsburgh Panthers is a must-win.
Louisville (16-4, 4-3 Big East) beat the Connecticut Huskiers 73-58 in their first game as the nation’s top-ranked team Jan. 14 before losing 70-68 at home to then-No. 6 Syracuse Orange on Jan. 19.
The Cardinals lost versus the Villanova Wildcats 73-64 on Tuesday prior to Saturday’s 53-51 defeat versus the Georgetown Hoyas.
The Cardinals haven’t lost four straight since Feb. 12-25, 2004, and they also haven’t lost four straight Big East games since joining the conference in 2005-06.
Coach Pitino already made a change to his lineup Saturday, starting Luke Hancock in place of leading scorer Russ Smith.
Smith, averaging 18.4 points, came off the bench for only the third time this season and scored 12 points on a season low-tying nine shots. Smith scored a season worst-tying eight points and shot 2 for 13 versus the Wildcats and is hitting 33.3 percent from the field over his last six.
Hancock scored 12 points in his first start since Nov. 15 and Pitino plans to start him again against the Panthers, a team that has won four straight and is coming off a 93-55 rout of DePaul on Saturday.
No one played more than 24 minutes as Pittsburgh (17-4, 5-3) set a season high for points.
The Panthers are currently among the nation’s leaders with only 10.4 turnovers per game even after finishing with a season-worst 18 on Saturday. The Cardinals lead the conference and ranks among the best in the country by forcing an average of 19.5.
Pittsburgh impressed YouWager line movers by using a balanced scoring attack, with no one averaging more than forward Talib Zanna’s 11.5 points. Trey Zeigler scored a season-high 18 off the bench Saturday.
The Cardinals have won three straight in this series since Peyton Siva became a starter, but the senior point guard may need to play better for that streak to move forward.