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Louisville-Villanova Preview

The Associated Press

Louisville only occupied the No. 1 spot for a week as its 11-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday.

However, the turnover-minded Cardinals appear poised to get back on track on Tuesday night against Villanova, a team that has struggled to protect the basketball while losing three straight.

Fifth-ranked Louisville (16-2, 4-1 Big East) forces 19.7 turnovers a game, the second-highest rate in the country. The Cardinals held a 16-9 turnover advantage on Saturday against Syracuse, but still lost 70-68 to the then-sixth-ranked Orange. It was the Cardinals' first loss since falling to Duke, 76-71 on Nov. 24.

Coach Rick Pitino's team - which entered shooting 45.7 percent from the floor - hit 40.7 percent of its shots compared to Syracuse's 49.0 percent.

"Give them credit, they made the plays; they made the shots when it counted and we didn't so you have to give them credit," Pitino said. "Great college basketball game and they won it."

Louisville's nine turnovers were two more than a season low, but two in the final 30 seconds proved costly. Peyton Siva had a pass intercepted for the go-ahead basket with 26 seconds left, and another pass from the point guard was eventually stripped on the Cardinals' final possession.

It was all part of a nightmarish outing for Siva, who scored a season-low three points while going 1 for 9 from the field. Siva is Louisville's second-leading scorer at 11.3 points per game and tops the team with 5.7 assists.

"He's mature, I don't even worry about him," said Russ Smith, the Big East's third-leading scorer (19.3) who scored a game-high 25. "At the end of the day, he worries about me. Peyton is Peyton. I expect him to just be Peyton on Tuesday."

As for the loss of the team's No. 1 ranking, Siva had seemingly already moved on after the loss.

"That doesn't bother me at all," Siva said. "I'd rather have the No. 1 ranking at the end of the year. I really don't mind having the No. 1 ranking at all. We're going to work our way back up to that spot and hopefully get it at the end of the year."

Villanova (11-7, 2-3) will be looking to end a three-game skid that could easily extend to five with a home matchup against Syracuse on Saturday.

The Wildcats held a 31-24 halftime advantage at Providence on Saturday, but committed seven turnovers in their first 12 possessions of the second half en route to a 69-66 defeat. Villanova finished with a season-high 25 turnovers, including 16 in the second half, and the Friars held a 30-6 advantage in points off turnovers.

The Wildcats' 16.3 turnovers per game are the most in the Big East.

"I thought we played a good first half," coach Jay Wright said. "In the second half, we turned it over too much. When you have 25 turnovers you are going to have a hard time winning the game."

Leading scorer JayVaughn Pinkston (13.3 ppg) bounced back from an eight-point effort in the previous game with a team-high 20 on 8-of-10 shooting against Providence.

Louisville owns a 9-8 edge in the all-time series, but has lost five of seven at Villanova. Siva tallied 16 points, five assists and three steals in an 84-74 home victory last season.

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