Men's Basketball Battles Rival Cincinnati on Thursday
January 30, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
LOUISVILLE PRESS RELEASE
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville men’s basketball team, after its eight-day layoff, faces American Athletic Conference leader and long-time rival Cincinnati on Thursday in the KFC Yum! Center at 7:02 p.m. ET.
The game is labeled "Throwback Thursday," with fans encouraged to wear their vintage gear. Fans can purchase "throwback" gear from the Cardinal Authentic team store at the KFC Yum! Center.
The Jan. 30 game featuring the top two teams in the AAC will air on ESPN, with Dave O’Brien (play-by-play), Doris Burke (analyst), and Jeff Goodman (reporter) calling the action. Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Bob Valvano (analyst) will announce the game on WHAS 840 AM. The contest also is available on SIRIUS channel 91 and XM channel 91.
Louisville leads the all-time series 55-42 over Cincinnati, the Cardinals’ most-played opponent. Louisville has won the last two meetings, including a 67-51 decision last year on March 4. Russ Smith scored a game-high 18 points, and Louisville’s defense limited Cincinnati to just 35.3 percent shooting for the game. The meeting prior to that in which the Cardinals won 50-44 on March 10, 2012, resulted in Louisville’s first of consecutive BIG EAST Tournament titles.
Currently, Louisville (17-3, 6-1 AAC) ranks in the top-five nationally in four different categories: No. 1 in scoring margin (+21.6), No. 3 in steals per game (10.0) and turnover margin (+6.8), and No. 4 in total steals (199). Cincinnati also boasts impressive statistical rankings, checking in at No. 5 in scoring defense (56.9), No. 6 in total blocks (132), and No. 10 in turnover margin (+4.6).
The No. 12/7 Cardinals are coming off a solid 86-47 win over conference foe USF on Jan. 22 in which Louisville shot better than 50 percent from the field and beyond the arc. Louisville’s defense forced 23 turnovers, converting that into 35 points.
Four of Louisville’s starters reached double-digit points, with Wayne Blackshear, who came off the bench, totaling a game-high 16 points. He hit 5-of-6 from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Luke Hancock nailed four 3-pointers, and Montrezl Harrell reached his fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
For the season, Smith is pacing the team in scoring (18.1), assists (96), steals (38), and 3-pointers made (43). Harrell, second on the team in scoring (12.1), has a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game. Notably, since coming off the bench the last three games, Blackshear is averaging 16 points and 4.3 rebounds, while shooting 65 percent from the field.
Cincinnati, winners of its last 12, is 19-2 this season, including an 8-0 record in league play to sit atop the AAC standings. During the 12-game stretch, Cincinnati handed Pitt its first loss and beat Memphis by 16.
In their last game, the Bearcats defeated Temple 80-76. Cincinnati shot 54.7 percent from the field and was led by Sean Kilpatrick’s team-high 29 points and eight rebounds. He connected on five 3-pointers, while Shaquille Thomas added 15 points in the win. Temple, despite knocking down 10 3-pointers and hitting 24 of its 27 free throws, was unable to recover from a 10-point halftime deficit. Temple’s Dalton Pepper scored a game-high 33 points on stellar shooting that included eight 3-pointers.
Kilpatrick has paced the No. 15/16 Bearcats in scoring (19.1). He has hit a team-high 54 3-pointers and is shooting 84.9 percent from the charity stripe. Justin Jackson is second on the team in scoring (11.1), while leading the team in shooting percentage (54.8), blocks (71), and steals (37).
The Bearcats are under the direction of eighth-year coach Mick Cronin, who’s guided the program to a 154-102 record. Cincinnati was picked to finish fourth in the conference following last season’s 22-12 season that ended with a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament. Kilpatrick was named a preseason first team all-AAC selection.
GAME FACTS - Louisville vs. Cincinnati