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Russ Smith usatoday

aac tournament 300x166 Louisville vs. Houston: Preview and Prediction

The Louisville Cardinals are flying high after totally overwhelming the Rutgers Scarlet Knights yet again, winning 92-31 Thursday afternoon. The No.5 Cardinals (27-5, 15-3) have outscored the future Big 10 member by a score of  194-85 in their last two meetings. After the last two epic beat downs at the hands of the Cards, Rutgers is probably ecstatic that Thursday’s game was their last against the Cards for the foreseeable future and are looking forward to getting in a separate conference.

Next up for Rick Pitino’s surging Cardinals? Houston, you have a problem. The sixth seeded Cougars (17-15, 8-10) reward for upsetting the third seeded SMU Mustangs is a date with one of the hottest teams in college basketball. The Cards and Cougars have met twice this season with Louisville winning both games easily.

The first game was a dismantling at the KFC Yum Center on January 16 with the Cards winning, 91-52. The return game was a 15-point win for Louisville, 77-62 in Houston. Leading the Cougars in the first matchup was TaShawn Thomas with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Jherrod Stiggers added 14 points and six rebounds. Louisville got huge games from Wayne Blackshear and Russ Smith. Blackshear went off for 23 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range while Smith got 18 points, five rebounds and dished out four assists.

In the second game, Houston was once again led by Thomas and Stiggers who each finished with 14 points. Thomas added eight rebounds in a solid performance. Louisville got a great team effort and four players in double digit points. Smith led with 17 and six assists, Luke Hancock had 15 and seven rebounds, Montrezl Harrell added 15 and five rebounds, while Chris Jones put up 14 while stealing five balls. Terry Rozier just missed out on the double digit party, scoring nine points and muscling up for five rebounds.

Luke n Russ espn Louisville vs. Houston: Preview and Prediction

Photo – ESPN
No.11 Luke Hancock had 15 points while No.2 Russ Smith had 17 points in their last game vs. Houston

 

 Probable Starters

No. – Name – Pos. – Ht. – Wt. – Yr.

11 – Luke Hancock – F/G  6-6 – 200 – Sr. )

24 – Montrezl Harrell – F – 6-8 – 235 – So.

44 – Stephan Van Treese – F – 6-9 – 245 – Sr.

2 – Russ Smith – G – 6-1 – 165 – Sr.

3 – Chris Jones – G – 5-10 – 175 – Jr.

Reserves:

0 Terry Rozier G 6-1 185 Fr.

1 Anton Gill G 6-3 185 Fr.

4 Dillon Avare G 6-0 150 Fr.

5 Kevin Ware G 6-2 175 Jr.

12 Mangok Mathiang F/C 6-10 210 Fr.

15 Tim Henderson G 6-2 190 Sr.

20 Wayne Blackshear F 6-5 230 Jr.

22 Akoy Agau F 6-8 230 Fr.

23 David Levitch G 6-3 180 Fr.

Houston’s roster:

PROBABLE STARTERS

Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl.-Exp. Hometown – PPG – RPG – Other

5 – L.J. Rose G 6-4 190 So.-TR Houston, Texas – 8.5 – 2.4 – 5.4 apg

2 – Brandon Morris G 6-0 185 Sr.-1L – Alexandria, La. – 6.5 – 2.2 – 1.4 apg

23 – Danuel House F 6-7 195 So.-1L – Sugar Land, Texas – 13.6 – 5.0 – 2.0 apg

0 – Danrad Knowles F 6-10 190 r-Fr.-RS – Nassau, Bahamas – 7.5 – 4.3 – 1.3 bpg

35 – TaShawn Thomas F 6-8 240 Jr.-2L – Killeen, Texas – 15.8 – 8.2 – 2.7 bpg

RESERVES

Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl.-Exp. Hometown – PPG – RPG – Other

21 Jherrod Stiggers G 6-5 210 r-So.-1L Terrell, Texas – 10.6 – 2.6 1.1 apg

14 Tione Womack G 6-1 170 Sr.-1L Baltimore, Md. – 3.9 – 2.1 – 2.0 apg

4 LeRon Barnes G 6-6 195 r-So.-1L Stonewall, La. – 3.4 – 2.6 – 0.4 apg

55 J.J. Richardson F 6-8 255 r-Sr.-1L Missouri City, Texas – 4.6 – 2.5 – 0.5 spg

1 Mikhail McLean F 6-8 205 r-Jr.-2L Nassau, Bahamas – 2.8 – 1.8 – 0.3 spg

3 Jaaron Simmons G 6-1 175 Fr.-HS Dayton, Ohio -1.9 – 0.6 – 1.2 apg

24 Lawrence Paye G 6-0 185 Sr.-SQ Houston, Texas 3-0 0.0 0.0 –––

33 Tyus Bowser G 6-3 225 Fr.-HS Tyler, Texas – 0.0 0.0 0.3 spg

12 Jimmie Jones G 5-10 160 r-Sr.-1L Plano, Texas – 1.0 0.8 0.8 apg

45 Valentine Izundu C 6-10 215 So.-1L Houston, Texas – 0.0 0.8 0.3 bpg

20 Adam Drexler F 6-5 205 So.-TR Houston, Texas – sitting out 2013-14 as transfer

25 Ahmed Hamdy P 6-9 255 Fr.-HS Alexandria, Egypt – sitting out 2013-14 as redshirt

Prediction: 

There are three facets to the game that I believe will be key in this matchup and by looking at the numbers, you can see that Houston really does have a problem.

First, the Cougars are going to have to score some points as they do not want to get into a defensive battle with the well oiled machine that is the Louisville press. Houston averages 71.4 points per game (174 in NCAA), well behind the Cards at 81.8 ppg. (11 in NCAA).

Secondly, turnovers are always a huge part to a teams success or lack thereof. Not a good thing for the Cougs as they are averaging 12.6 per game, good enough for 208th in the country. Oh and I may have forgot to mention that the Cards are best in the country at turnover margin at +6.9.

Finally, good field goal defense usually leads to turnovers, frustration by the opponent and most importantly, wins. The Cards rank 25th nationally, holding teams to 39.7% shooting while Houston is ranked 91st nationally, shooting only 45.8% as a team.

Louiville – 83

Houston – 65

Player of the game: Russ Smith w/ 19 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists