Pitino Looking Forward to Rematch With Hoyas

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Popping antacids might seem appropriate for Louisville coach Rick Pitino as the Cardinals head to Washington for a rematch with Georgetown.

The Big East Conference regular-season title will be on the line when the No. 11 Hoyas and No. 12 Cardinals meet at noon on Saturday. And it will be Georgetown's senior day. And Georgetown will be seeking revenge for a 59-51 loss to Louisville (24-6, 14-3 Big East Conference) in February. And the Hoyas (24-4, 14-3) have won 20 games in a row in the Verizon Center.

But Pitino sounded giddy, not glum, at a news conference on Thursday.

"There's so much at stake," he said. "That's a lot of fun and I wouldn't want it any other way."

Pitino is wary of this weekend's opponent, despite his anticipation. The Cardinals' defense was one of the biggest factors that allowed them to come back from being down by eight at halftime in the first game against the Hoyas.

Pitino also knows coach John Thompson III will have made adjustments since Feb. 9, just as he will.

"You've got to break it and make it better," Pitino said. "They're going to tear apart what they didn't do well as well as what worked for them, and you've got to change the second time around."

One thing Pitino hopes his team can keep the same is its effort on defense in the first game, when the Cardinals held the Hoyas to 20 points in the second half.

The previous win against Georgetown was one of nine in a row for Louisville, but this season has been one of ups and downs for the Cardinals. They were ranked No. 6 in the preseason but fell out of The Associated Press poll, playing without injured seniors David Padgett and Juan Palacios. Louisville was 5-3 at one point, and Pitino couldn't afford to look forward to March, he said.

"We didn't know if we were going to get healthy or not," Pitino said, "so all we were trying to do is just become the best team we could be each day out. ... We just didn't know what to expect."

But point guard Edgar Sosa -- a knucklehead, Pitino has called him -- expected the team to be able to win the conference, even back then, he said.

"We knew (Padgett) had to get back and get healthy and (Palacios) as well," Sosa said. "The whole time we knew we were going to be this good, but it was just a matter of when we would turn it on."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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