After nearly a week, the 10th ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals (22-5, 10-4 Big East) came back home to the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday for a matchup against the Seton Hall Pirates (13-15, 2-13). Seton Hall comes in after losing 8 straight and being destined to play in the first round of the Big East Tournament while the Cards are looking at a double-bye in that same tourney. Louisville prevailed 79-61.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for Louisville native Aaron Cosby. The sophomore worried the Cardinals because of his outside shooting ability. In only a year and a half with the Pirates, he had already made 114 three pointers to rank 17th on Seton Hall’s all time list.
On the other side, junior Fuquan Edwin has knocked down 117 to rank 15th. The Cards had to contain that twin threat to continue coach Rick Pitino’s goal of winning out til the end of the season.
The other storyline to watch involved the coach Kevin Willard connection. Willard, the Seton Hall head man, served as assistant coach and associate head coach at Louisville under Pitino. Willard also says his other big coaching influence is his father Ralph. Ralph Willard coached at Western Kentucky and has his share of local fans.
The Pirates hung with Louisville early on as the Cards worked their rotation, trying different combinations to keep the Pirates off balance. But because it’s UofL and the way the defense plays, things got tougher for the visitors. After hitting early threes, Seton Hall went cold, only putting in 4 of 11 in the first half and 7 of 18 for the game.
Meanwhile the Cardinals were red hot thanks to Luke Hancock, Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, each hitting all their three attempts in the first half.
The largest lead the Pirates could come up with was 2 and that was after 17 seconds of play. After 3:36 on the clock, the Cards took the lead for good and the halftime score was 40-26.
Gorgui Dieng played a career game in both halves. His 10 first half points led his team and he put a couple of blocks with that as well. The midrange jump shot that abandoned him earlier in the year came back in a ferocious way.