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Louisville HC Kenny Payne Previews Pitt Matchup: ‘It’s Hard to Guard Them’



Jeff Capel before Pitt plays against North Carolina on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023 in Chapel Hill. (Mitchell Northam / Pittsburgh Sports Now)

On Tuesday night, Pitt has the chance to tie for first place in the ACC regular season standings with a win over the struggling Louisville Cardinals.

The two teams squared off just weeks ago in Louisville, as Greg Elliott went for 23 points and hit five of his eight three-point attempts in the Panthers’ win. Jamarius Burton added a ten-point, 11-assist double double, and Nike Sibande cashed in on four of his six three-point tries for 12 points of his own. Louisville head coach Kenny Payne, who has the Cardinals at just 3-20 on the year, knows that this time around, his team really needs to limit Pitt’s outside ability.

“They run good stuff,” Payne said about the Panthers on Monday. “They’re a little bit undersized 1-through-4 but they make up for it with their toughness. It’s hard to guard them. They’ve got players that can score from different places. I’m not surprised that they’re averaging nine threes a game, makes. Leading the conference in attempts. To look at it, you may think they are settling. That’s not what they’re doing. They’re beating you off the dribble, they’re putting you in rotations, and they’re getting shots.”

In that first matchup, Louisville’s El Ellis led the way with 19 points and five assists. Behind Ellis, forward JJ Traynor added 14 points, hitting six of his nine field-goal tries.

The Cardinals lost their first ten ACC games of the season, including the loss to Pitt, but have now picked up a win since. Led by Jae’lyn Withers, Louisville recently beat Georgia Tech by a score of 68-58. In their most recent game, the Cardinals fell to Florida State — a team that beat Pitt — by just three points.

On the other hand, Pitt has won five of its last six games and each of its last three in ACC play. The Panthers, who currently reside in second place in the conference, have used big games from Blake Hinson, Nelly Cummings and co. to catch fire heading into the crucial final stretch of the season.

“There is a different energy when you win,” Pitt’s Jeff Capel said on Monday. “There definitely is. This time of year, the month of February, is really the grind. If you’re having some positivity as far as winning some games, you’re a little bit more energetic, you feel a little bit better, there’s maybe a little bit more excitement about being in the gym and practicing. We’ve been on both sides. Even last year, when we won those three games in a row, during that time, it was a pretty different feeling in the gym when we came to practice. So, it’s definitely different. But the thing we’ve tried to do man is just have positive energy all year. Even when we lost those three games in a row early in the season, there was excitement to get back and get to work. We’ve tried to maintain that all year.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Cignetti & Friends
Cignetti & Friends
1 year ago

With L-ville this year….it’s hard for them to guard anyone. Nice to see this outlaw community college become a doormat.

Eric Payne
Eric Payne
1 year ago

Unfortunately, with this NIL, they won’t be in the basement long.

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