(13) Cincinnati (19-2) at (12) Louisville (17-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 30, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: KFC Yum Center! (22,000) -- Louisville, Kentucky.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: Cincinnati 14-0, Louisville 11-1. Away Record:
Cincinnati 4-1, Louisville 5-1. Neutral Record: Cincinnati 1-1, Louisville
1-1. Conference Record: Cincinnati 8-0, Louisville 6-1. Series Record:
Louisville leads, 55-42.
GAME NOTES: The top two teams in the American Athletic Conference will collide
at the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday evening, as the 12th-ranked Louisville
Cardinals play host to the 13th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats.
Mick Cronin's Bearcats bring a full head of steam into this contest, as they
haven't lost a game since Dec. 14 against crosstown rival Xavier. Off to their
best start since the 2001-02 campaign, the Bearcats have won 12 straight games
to move to 19-2 on the year. That includes a perfect 8-0 mark in the AAC. The
team kept its flawless league mark intact with Sunday's 80-76 road win at
The defending national champions are peaking as well, as they sit at 17-3
overall and a stellar 6-1 in conference play. Rick Pitino's Cardinals have won
four straight and six of their last seven games and enter off an 86-47 rout of
USF last week.
Louisville holds a 55-42 advantage in the all-time series, including wins in
the last two meetings. The Cardinals are 31-15 against the Bearcats at home.
The Bearcats took a 10-point lead into halftime, but had to hold on against
the pesky Owls last time out to remain unbeaten in conference play. Cincinnati
shot a sizzling .547 from the field in the game, but Temple hung around thanks
to a 24-15 edge in points from the free-throw line. All-American candidate
Sean Kilpatrick shot 9-of-19 from the floor, including five 3-pointers en
route to a team-high 29 points. Shaquille Thomas added 15 points in support,
while Troy Caupain just missed a double-double with eight points and nine
Cincinnati enjoys a +14.3 scoring margin on the year, fueled by some of the
best defense in the nation. The Bearcats ranks fifth nationally in scoring
defense (56.9 ppg), holding foes under 40 percent shooting (.383). Kilpatrick
has been the driving force at the offensive end, leading the conference at a
hefty 19.1 ppg. Justin Jackson has stepped up with superior play down low,
shooting .548 from the floor and averaging 11.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per
game. A 6-foot-8 senior, Jackson ranks second in the nation in total blocks
(71) and ranks seventh in blocks per game (3.38).
The Cardinals are a little more balanced, as they boast of the nation's
largest scoring margin at +21.6. The team can obviously win games at either
end of the floor, averaging 83.2 ppg, while allowing just 61.8. In addition,
the team owns a +3.8 rebounding margin and an eye-popping +6.8 turnover
margin. The scoring pool features five Cardinals in double figures. The team
has its own All-American candidate in Russ Smith, who is second in the
conference at 18.1 ppg. Smith is also tops on the team in assists (4.8 apg)
and steals (38). Montrezl Harrell (12.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg) has been a monster down
low. Chris Jones (11.3 ppg) has missed time recently with a strained oblique,
but is probable to return in this game. Luke Hancock (10.8 ppg) and Wayne
Blackshear (10.2 ppg) round out the top threats.
Louisville showed its dominance at both ends of the floor against the Bulls
last week in what turned into a 39-point romp. The Cardinals shot over 50
percent from the floor and hit 12 3-pointers in the win. Five Cardinals notch
double digits in the scoring column, led by Blackshear's 16 points. Harrell
posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Harrell matched that
scoring total with 14 points of his own, while Smith and Georges Mathiang
tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively.
This one should be fun to watch. A win for the Bearcats would give them some
much needed breathing room down the stretch. However, Louisville knows how to
step up when needed and should be able to win a close one on its home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 74, Cincinnati 71
01/30 10:38:42 ET
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