|Points Per Game||81.7 (10th)||72.1 (121st)|
|Avg Scoring Margin||19.8 (1st)||10.9 (19th)|
|Field Goal %||47.7% (19th)||49.2% (7th)|
|Rebound Rate||52.2% (68th)||54.0% (20th)|
|Blocks Per Game||4.9 (42nd)||4.7 (59th)|
|Steals Per Game||9.7 (2nd)||7.4 (37th)|
|Assists Per Game||15.4 (21st)||15.1 (30th)|
|Turnovers Per Game||10.3 (20th)||13.4 (270th)|
|Team Fouls Per Game||19.9 (228th)||19.5 (194th)|
|2-point FG%||53.9% (15th)||53.0% (28th)|
|3-point FG%||36.4% (88th)||36.9% (67th)|
|Free Throw %||65.3% (316th)||67.7% (249th)|
|Opponent Shooting %||39.7% (20th)||36.9% (1st)|
|Opponent 2-point FG%||44.2% (40th)||41.0% (3rd)|
|Opponent 3-point FG%||29.8% (15th)||30.4% (27th)|
|Opponent Block Per Game||2.4 (10th)||3.5 (142nd)|
|Opponent Steals Per Game||4.4 (7th)||7.6 (339th)|
Two regular season games remain for the University of Louisville Basketball team before it concludes the regular season. The SMU Mustangs are 23-6 on the season and a perfect 15-0 at their 7000 seat Moody Coliseum. The ticket isn’t cheap. The game is completely sold out and the lowest priced single ticket is $167 on StubHub with a floor seat demanding $1000. This is a HUGE game for the Mustangs and the Larry Brown led program.
Larry Brown is a LEGEND and has a NBA Championship with the 2004 Detroit Pistons and the 1988 NCAA Championship with the Kansas Jayhawks. Coach Brown has been everywhere in basketball in a career that started in Long Island, NY as a player. Brown played at North Carolina, won an ABA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, and was a 3x ABA All-Star before beginning his career as a Head Coach. Brown has had the head job at UCLA & Kansas and 10 different professional teams (9 NBA).
Coach Pitino called Larry Brown a ‘phenomenon’. It’s hard to dispute that as the 73-year old has completely transformed the SMU basketball program. Coach Brown came to Dallas as a 71-year old to take on a program that went 13-18 before his arrival. In Year 1, the Mustangs went 15-17 and this year SMU is 23-6 entering the game against the Cards. Brown is a Finalist for the USBWA National Coach of the Year Award. This season is just the FIFTH time in Southern Methodist History that the Mustangs have record 23 or more wins on the hardwood and the first time since 1988.
Louisville is fresh off a loss to Memphis that snapped a 7-game winning streak. The clean-shaven Cards will attempt to become the 1st team to knock off SMU in Moody Coliseum. It is Senior Night for the Mustangs 6’4″ guard Nick Russell & 6’7″ Forward Shawn Williams will be honored prior to the game. Both Russell & Williams have started 28 of 29 games for SMU this season with Russell averaging 9.2 points per game and Williams 4.9.
The last time these two met in January at the KFC Yum! Center, Louisville was able to win 71-63 for a 7-2 all-time series edge. The game never felt like it was in danger for the Cards, but the Cards never really were able to pull away. Luke Hancock & Russ Smith both dropped 23, with Montrezl Harrell adding a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double. For SMU, it was a group effort with no one standing out especially, but the Mustangs had 8 very solid performers and Marcus Kennedy led SMU in scoring before fouling out.
UofL certainly needs another road win against a quality team and SMU provides that opportunity. Most thought that the Cards had turned the corner prior to the Memphis tilt that saw the Cards score just 3 points in the final 5:37 of the game and give away a lead for the 2nd time in as many games against the Tigers.
To win this game the Cards have to really dial in a hostile environment. Louisville can really count on solid production from Russ Smith & Montrezl Harrell night in and night out. What has been on & off are the other 3 positions. On a night when Luke Hancock might be ‘off’ Wayne Blackshear has not been able to really pick up the slack. But for the most part Chris Jones has really grown and should be fine against any team not named “Memphis”. The Center position is really an intangible position. Neither Van Treese or Mathiang really factor much in the offensive side of the ball, but are relied heavily on defense and in rebounding. So far the Cards have been able to go 24-5 without much statistical production from the Center spot, but they can NOT have a ‘no show’ at any of the other 4 spots on the floor.
Late game execution cost the Cards in 3 of their 5 losses this season (both Memphis & Cincy) and Coach Pitino alluded to finding more time to sit Montrezl Harrell earlier in the game in order to have him fresh at the end. Something must give, and the Cards certainly are going to find themselves in a tough game that goes to the final 4:00 minutes in the next few weeks……if not against SMU.
This is going to be a big game for the Cards and it will be played in a big time environment. It’s March, welcome to the Madness people.
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