The College of Charleston’s Adjehi Baru and Anthony Stitt have tried not to dwell on what happened last season when the Cougars played Louisville.

College of Charleston at Louisville

WHEN: 1 p.m.

WHERE: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY


2012-13 Records: Charleston 24-11; Louisville 35-5.

But they don’t want to forget about it either.

College of Charleston at Louisville

WHEN: 1 p.m. WHERE: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY


2012-13 RECORDS: Charleston 24-11; Louisville 35-5.

NOTES: The Cardinals, the defending NCAA champions, will be without Final Four MVP Luke Hancock, who has been nagged by an achilles injury during the preseason, and Chane Behanan, who was suspended from the team last month. Louisville guard Kevin Ware, who suffered a gruesome broken leg in the NCAA Final Four, is expected to play. The game can be seen on ESPN3.

Longwood at South Carolina

WHEN: 1 p.m. WHERE: Colonial Life Arena


RECORDS: Longwood 0-0, 0-0 Big South; South Carolina 0-0, 0-0 SEC

NOTES: South Carolina opens its second season under coach Frank Martin with one of those classic, confidence-boosting tune-up games. Longwood was picked to finish last in the Big South North. A year ago, Longwood finished 8-25. Should be smooth sailing for the Gamecocks.

The Cougars will tip off their 2013-14 season against the Cardinals, the defending national champions, Saturday at 1 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

A year ago, Charleston was on a four-game winning streak, which included wins over Boston College and nationally ranked Baylor on the road, heading into their game with the Cardinals.

The anticipation surrounding the matchup was intense and the energy at TD Arena that night was palpable. The Cougars had a history of knocking off national powers. Just ask North Carolina or Maryland or Georgia Tech.

The Cardinals never gave the Cougars or the sellout crowd of more than 5,100 a chance, opening up a 20-point halftime lead and cruising to an 80-38 victory.

“It was a long night,” Stitt said. “It’s one of those games you want to try and forget about, but one where you go back and watch the film and hope you can learn from it so it doesn’t happen again.”

Stitt and Baru are convinced that the Cougars are better prepared for Saturday’s game. Last year, the Cougars spent the majority of their practice time working against man-to-man defenses, a staple under Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino. But Louisville used a matchup zone defense that confused the Cougars and forced 27 turnovers.

“We’ve watched a lot of film, even over the summer from a lot of their games from last year,” Stitt said. “This year we’re prepared to play against man-to-man defense, a zone defense, their press. We’re ready for this.”

Getting past the Cardinals’ press and keeping turnovers to a minimum will be paramount for the Cougars. Unlike last year when they had just two primary ball handlers in Stitt and Andrew Lawrence, the Cougars will have more depth in the backcourt. Stitt, true freshman Joe Chealey, Canyon Barry and Nori Johnson will all be counted on to handle the ball against the Cardinals’ pressure defense.

“We had 27 turnovers against them last year and we need to clean that up,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “In order for us to be able to compete against them we’ve got to take care of the basketball. We have more than two ball handlers and the other guys that are returning have improved their ball handling.”

Louisville will be without two key players on Saturday. Forward Luke Hancock, the Final Four MVP, is out of the lineup with an achilles injury. Forward Chane Behanan, who scored 10 points against the Cougars last season, has been suspended.

“Louisville is still Louisville, no matter who they have on the floor,” Wojcik said. “They’re still one of the most athletic, talented teams we’ll face all season.”

One Louisville player that will be on the floor is guard Kevin Ware. Ware suffered a gruesome broken leg during the Final Four a year ago, but returned to the lineup Wednesday night in the Cardinals’ 90-61 exhibition win over Pikeville. Ware made his first shot from the floor and finished with four points.

Louisville is expected to have a lengthy pre-game ceremony as the team raises its national championship banner. Wojcik said the ceremony won’t be a distraction for the Cougars.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Wojcik said. “It doesn’t matter if we go to Louisville now or later in the season. We didn’t know that they were going to be the defending national champions when we scheduled the game. I think it’s a bigger opportunity for us. What a great way for our young to start their careers.”