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    Photo courtesy University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Facebook Page
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    The University of Louisville men’s basketball team is hoping to bounce against Buzz on Tuesday night.  

    That’s when the Cardinals (14-2 overall, 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) host Virginia Tech (8-7, 0-2) at 7 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center.

    Louisville, which is No. 6 in the new Associated Press Top 25 and No. 7 in the new USA Today Coaches Poll, is trying to rebound from a tough 72-71 loss at North Carolina on Saturday. The Cards lost a 13-point second-half lead in its first ACC setback. 

    “It stings as much as any game I’ve coached,” UofL coach Rick Pitino, who fell to 0-6 all-time against the Tar Heels, told the Associated Press after the game. “Our players are very hurt by it, but this is the ACC. There are going to be a lot of games like this.”

    The Cards’ upcoming game is against a familiar face and a somewhat familiar foe (from their Metro Conference days at least). Virginia Tech is coached by former Marquette head man Buzz Williams, who is in his first season on the job in Blacksburg, Va.

    “He’s one of the bright young stars in the game,” Pitino said of Williams, whose teams usually played Louisville extremely tough back in the Big East, Monday. 

    It hasn’t been the easiest season, however, for Williams so far.

    The Hokies, who went 9-22 (including 2-16 in the ACC) last season and were picked to finish last in the conference’s preseason poll, split their first eight games of the season. Va Tech’s losses included a 2-point setback to Appalachian State (which is 4-9), a 19-point loss to Northern Iowa (which is 14-2), a 3-point loss at Penn State and a 2-point defeat to Radford. The Hokies then won four in a row - against such powerhouses (wink, wink) as Alabama A&M, The Citadel, VMI and Presbyterian - before losing its last three - at West Virginia (82-51), to Syracuse (68-66) and at Florida State (86-75).  

    “Buzz’s team is playing much better of late,” Pitino said.  

    The Hokies are led by 6-foot-5 freshman guard Justin Bibbs (13.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg), 6-1 junior guard Adam Smith (12.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg), 6-10 junior forward Joey Van Zegeren (9.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg), 6-5 freshman guard Ahmed Hill (8 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and 6-4 sophomore guard Devin Wilson (7.9 ppg, 4.6 apg).

    Virginia Tech ranks 32nd nationally in field-goal percentage (47.8) and shoots 40.4 percent from 3-point range.

    “They shoot the 3 well, they can beat you off the bounce and they’re very quick in transition so we’ve got to be alert defensively because they can sometimes play five guards and that can catch you off balance if you’re not ready for it,” Pitino said.  

    The Hokies’ weakness is rebounding, they rank 292nd nationally (32 per game). By comparison, that happens to be one of Louisville’s strengths, the Cards rank 10th nationally (41 per game), although Pitino wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance on the defensive glass against North Carolina.

    Photo courtesy University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Facebook Page

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