LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- West Virginia is about to play a ranked men's basketball team on the road in an arena it's never seen, without two players who were starting together as recently as a week ago.
That's when things threatened to go sideways for the Mountaineers, who lost to Marshall on Jan. 19 for the first time in five years, then scored 56 points in Sunday's 10-point home win against South Florida.
They watched sophomore forward Dan Jennings quit the team in the middle of the USF game and Monday saw its leading scorer, senior guard Casey Mitchell, suspended indefinitely for the second time this season.
WVU (13-5, 4-2 Big East) plays at No. 23 Louisville at 7 p.m. tonight (ESPNU telecast) at the new $238 million KFC Yum! Center.
The Cardinals (15-4, 4-2) have more home games (15) and more home wins (13) than anyone in the conference, but are coming off a loss at Providence.
That's the same team WVU beat, 93-63, two weeks ago.
The Mountaineers dropped from the polls this week after the Marshall loss, but were No. 14 in Tuesday's RPI with the sixth-hardest schedule in the country. Louisville was No. 39 in the RPI. WVU plays at Cincinnati (17-3, 4-3) at 8 p.m. Saturday, and the Bearcats were No. 38.
"Obviously we want to get two wins," Coach Bob Huggins said.
"We've played well at Louisville - at Freedom Hall - but we didn't win. We got down a couple times and got back in the game, but we didn't win.
"And we were in the game at Cincinnati (on the last visit, in 2008-09) and didn't finish the game the way we needed to finish the games. But I think we're very capable of winning."
West Virginia beat Louisville at the WVU Coliseum last January, but lost the first three games against the Cards under Huggins, including games at Freedom Hall by six and nine points.
The Mountaineers have won two in a row against Cincinnati, but started 0-2 under Huggins against his former employer, including a loss in his return to the UC campus in 2009.
If nothing else, the Mountaineers will look at this as an opportunity. The players had a meeting on the bus on the trip back from Charleston and the loss to Marshall and challenged themselves and one another to fix their problems.
"It's an ongoing process and we're trying to do it by first doing it every day in practice and hopefully that transfers over to the games," said senior Cam Thoroughman, a candidate to start in Jennings' spot.
"A couple of the older guys are taking it on their shoulders to make it important and stress it more. That's what us older guys have got to do. We know what it's like and we've got to push through that. The older guys are supposed to be leaders."
Huggins has won 93 games at WVU and 50 have been away from home, but this road trip will be a test.