Top-ranked Louisville has been rolling through the first third of its season but will have to be at its best when it plays Texas Tech on Tuesday in New York’s Madison Square Garden as a part of the Jimmy V Classic.
It’s the first time the two programs have played in basketball, and the stage could not be brighter for the Cardinals, who have swept to nine wins in nine games. The Red Raiders, however, are looking to right their ship after three straight losses — two of those in overtime.
Louisville heads to the Big Apple on the heels of a 64-46 win at home against Pittsburgh that pushed the Cardinals to 2-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Jordan Nwora had 19 points in the win and Malik Williams had 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. After letting a 14-point halftime lead dwindle to five points, Louisville went on a 13-0 run to take control of the game with a 60-42 lead with 4:39 left in regulation.
Every player that played more than one minute made at least one 3-pointer as the Cardinals went 11 of 26 from behind the arc.
Louisville is averaging 77.1 points per game by shooting 49.6 from the field and 39.1 percent on 3-pointers. Defensively the Cardinals are limiting opponents to 57.6 points per game and to 35.3 percent shooting.
Don’t expect the Cardinals to take Texas Tech lightly. Louisville coach Chris Mack understands that his team will have to play better than in past games to beat the Red Raiders.
“Texas Tech coach (Chris) Beard texted me today out of the blue and said he likes watching our team so he’s trying to butter me up already, but I’m not having it,” Mack said after the win over Pittsburgh. “You don’t do what he’s done, and what their program has done, if you’re not an incredibly well-coached program. We have a lot of respect.
“We know they’ve lost three in a row, but they’re going to defend better than any team we’ve played thus far and we’re going to have to be ready.”
The Red Raiders (5-3) are coming off a 65-60 overtime loss to DePaul on Wednesday in Chicago. Freshman guard Terrence Shannon, Jr. led the Red Raiders in that loss with a career-high 24 points after going 9-for-18 from the field with two 3-pointers.
Kyler Edwards added 12 points and Davide Moretti scored 10. The Red Raiders matched a season-high with 22 turnovers against the Blue Demons and were held to single-digit assists for the only time this season.
“We’ve been in three really close one-possession games where a basket or a stop there and our record and our mood feels a lot different,” Beard said. “To me, you stay the course. We could be sitting here with an 8-0 record instead of three losses, but we’re still the same team. The idea is to get better each game and I think we are doing that. It hasn’t shown on the scoreboard yet, but I remain confident that it will.”
Texas Tech is second in the nation with 18.8 assists per game and is leading the Big 12 with 131 made free throws, 150 total assists and 323 total rebounds. The team is fourth in the conference by scoring 79.0 points per game by limiting opponents to 40.0 percent shooting.
–Field Level Media