Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Top 25 teams collide at the KFC
Yum! Center on Thursday evening, as the 12th-ranked Louisville Cardinals play
host to the 24th-ranked Memphis Tigers in a key American Athletic Conference
The defending national champions have gotten off to a fast start in league
play, topping both UCF (90-65) and Rutgers (83-76) on the road. With the
victories, Rick Pitino's Cardinals are now an impressive 13-2 on the season
with the losses coming against powers North Carolina and Kentucky.
Josh Pastner's Tigers are 10-3 on the season, and have split a pair of
conference games, with a win over USF on the road (88-73) followed by a home
loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats, 69-53.
Louisville holds a 53-34 advantage all-time against Memphis and has won four
straight in the series. The Cardinals are 30-11 against the Tigers at home.
A string of 12 straight conference home opening wins came to and end for
Memphis last weekend as the Tigers fell to the Bearcats by 16 points, the
largest margin in conference play for Memphis since a 25-point setback to
Cincinnati during the 1998-99 campaign. Senior guard Joe Jackson led the team
in scoring with 13 points in the loss. Michael Dixon Jr. added 12 points.
Memphis is a strong offensive team, averaging 80.5 ppg on a solid .472
shooting. The team isn't very efficient from long range (.290), but does hold
a +2.8 rebounding edge, as well as a +4.1 turnover margin. Jackson headlines
the offensive attack at 15.0 ppg. Shaq Goodwin is second in the scoring column
(12.3 ppg), while leading the way on the boards (6.8 rpg). Dixon (11.4 ppg)
hasn't started many games this season (4), but has been instrumental off the
bench for the most part.
Some of the names have changed since last season, but the rate at which
Louisville is racking up victories hasn't. The Cardinals are getting the job
done at both ends of the floor this year and are enjoying a +22.5 scoring
margin as a result. The team is shooting .474 from the floor overall,
resulting in a hefty 84.9 ppg. All-American candidate Russ Smith leads the way
as both a potent scorer (17.7 ppg) and deft distributor (4.9 apg). Chris Jones
(12.6 ppg) adds to the strong play in the backcourt, while depth comes in the
form of forwards Montrezl Harrell (11.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Wayne Blackshear
Smith went 14-of-16 from the free-throw line and finished with a game-high 22
points in Louisville's road win at Rutgers. Three other Cardinals finished in
double figures, with Luke Hancock (15 pts), Terry Rozier (14 pts) and
Blackshear (13 pts) all getting involved. Louisville used its physical play to
get to the free-throw line a whopping 46 times in the game, converting 41
The Sports Network