BOZICH | Cat Barber: It's hard to contain me; Louisville must to - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Cat Barber: It's hard to contain me; Louisville must to beat N.C. State

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WDRB) – You look at the box score from Louisville's 74-65 loss to North Carolina State on Valentine's Day, and you're tempted to argue the Cardinals need a major upgrade on offense, not defense, to win the rematch against the Wolfpack Friday night in the East Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville failed to shoot 40 percent in either half on Feb. 14.

Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier combined for 14 points, about 18 less than their season averages.

The Cards scored 16 points in the paint, half of N. C. State's total.

Improved offense is the answer to winning in the Carrier Dome, right?

Not exactly.

Louisville lost that game because of a troubling nine-minute stretch of defensive slippage that unfolded with 14 minutes to play, after Harrell made a jumper to put Louisville ahead 43-41.

On State's next possession, Kyle Washington made his only basket. A game where the lead changed 16 times was tied for the ninth time.

Wayne Blackshear missed a shot for the Cards. Trevor Lacey followed with a three-pointer for the visitors.

The game was never tied again.

In a nine-minute stretch, North Carolina State outscored Louisville, 22-9, managing three three-point field goals, a couple of jumpers, a layup, two dunks and three free throws.

If you don't believe that defense was the issue, chew on this number: For the game, N.C. State averaged 1.12 points possession. Notre Dame (1.13) was the only team that played more efficient offense against Rick Pitino's team over the entire 34-game schedule.

That's correct -- N.C. State was more efficient than Kentucky, Duke or Virginia.

Both teams agreed on the defensive problem that Louisville could not solve – stopping guard Cat Barber from creating a string of mismatches by flashing through pick-and-rolls.

Barber either scored, got fouled and made free throws or dished the ball to teammates for easy baskets.

“It's kind of hard to trap me because I'm so fast,” Barber said. “Getting through the traps, I got fouled in the game and got them in the penalty and I was knocking them down.”

“He was able to get anywhere he wanted,” Blackshear said. “He would just take on our bigs.”

“He's probably one of the quickest dudes I've ever seen, moving side to side,” said U of L reserve guard Anton Gill, who has played against Barber since high school.

“He's one of those guys who can get anywhere he wants on the court, so it's hard to guard him.”

Will U of L coach Rick Pitino create a trick defense to make this game more difficult for Barber? Will the Cards try to eliminate his drives and force Barber to beat them with jump shots?

Will Barber try to do too much after burning Louisville for 21 points at the KFC Yum! Center?

“We just have to defend it better,” Blackshear said. “We were in the positions. We just weren't defending it the right way.

“He was taking our bigs (frontcourt players) a lot off the dribble. I think our bigs have gotten a lot better at what they're supposed to do.”

“You've just got to try to wear him down over the game,” Gill said. “Make him do things he doesn't want to do. He knows he's quick and fast and can get to the rim. So you try to make him shoot over you.

“We have some different schemes. I can't tell you what they are but we figured out some things. We'll defend it better.”

Will a different defensive focus for the Cards create a different outcome Friday night?

“I wouldn't say it would be different, but it's going to be hard to contain me,” Barber said. “A lot of people can't do that because I'm so fast.”

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