Rick Pitino hasn’t ruled Gorgui Dieng out of Saturday’s game against rival Kentucky just yet.
Louisville’s head coach told CBSSports.com that Dieng, who hasn’t played since suffering a broken wrist against Missouri on Nov. 23, will practice full-contact for the first time Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ll see how it goes today,” Pitino said. “And then we’ll make a decision.”
The 6-foot-11 Senegal native has established himself as one of the elite big men in the country, especially on the defensive end. Louisville is 6-1 without Dieng in the lineup, with its lone loss coming in the championship game of the Battle of Atlantis against No. 1 Duke. Dieng averaged 9.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game last season and was averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and two blocks per game before the injury. Without him in the lineup, Pitino has been forced to play reserves Zach Price and Stephan Van Treese.
Dieng’s availability will be key for a Louisville team that needs length against Kentucky’s long and athletic freshman front court that features Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Cardinals will enter Saturday’s 4 p.m. contest ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll while Kentucky remains unranked after early losses to Duke, Notre Dame and Baylor at home.