Hartford (2-2) at (3) Louisville (3-0)|
Tuesday, November 19, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: KFC Yum! Center (22,000) -- Louisville, Kentucky.
Television: ESPN3. Home Record: Hartford 1-0, Louisville 3-0. Away Record:
Hartford 1-1, Louisville 0-0. Neutral Record: Hartford 0-1, Louisville 0-0.
Conference Record: Hartford 0-0, Louisville 0-0. Series Record: Louisville
GAME NOTES: Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals set their sights on a milestone
victory, as they host the Hartford Hawks at the KFC Yum! Center as part of the
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip Off.
Hartford improved to 2-2 on Friday with a 74-60 win over Farleigh Dickinson at
home. The Hawks split their two road tests prior to the victory in their home
opener as they lost by 14 points to Florida Gulf Coast before downing
Fairfield, 63-53, last Wednesday. This will be the team's fifth game in 11
days and its first matchup with a ranked opponent since 2009. Coach John
Gallagher has a very experienced group as his disposal. Hartford returned four
starters and over 90 percent of its scoring from last season's squad that
produced one of the best finishes in program history with a 17-14 overall
The Cardinals have had no trouble through their first three games. They have
defeated the College of Charleston, Hofstra and Cornell by an average margin
of 31.7 points per game. Louisville easily dispatched the Big Red in its most
recent outing and set a new season-high for points in a game in the 99-54
rout. The defending national champion's current 19-game win streak is the
longest in school history. Pitino's squad is tied for second nationally in
fewest turnovers per game (6.0) and is third among Division I programs in
assists-to-turnover ratio (2.67).
American East Player of the Year candidate Mark Nwakamma has lived up to the
hype so far with four consecutive double-digit outings in as many games. The
junior forward has surpassed the 20-point mark on two occasions and also
recorded a pair of double-doubles. The 6-foot-6 Nwakamma went 5-of-8 from the
field to net 14 points in the team's recent decision over FDU. Hartford had
its best offensive performance of the campaign against the Knights as it
converted 56.1 percent of its field goal attempts with a 10-of-20 clip on 3-
point attempts. Evan Cooper scored a team-high 18 points in 20 minutes off the
bench and Wes Cole also had a strong showing as a reserve with 11 points.
Louisville's chances of another deep run in March became much greater when
Russ Smith decided to return for his senior season. Smith has been outstanding
while averaging a team-high 20.3 ppg to go along with five apg. Junior forward
Wayne Blackshear is coming off a career-high 20 points which he produced in
only 18 minutes versus Cornell. Blackshear has hit seven of his last eight
attempts from beyond the arc. Junior college transfer Chris Jones is adding
13.7 ppg, while Montrezl Harrell is near a double-double average with 12
points and 9.3 boards per tilt. The Cardinals' win over the Big Red also
marked the return of Kevin Ware, who had not played since suffering a
devastating injury in last season's Big Dance versus Duke. Ware scored five
points in 13 minutes in his 2013-14 debut.
There have already been a handful of early season upsets, however the
Cardinals have too much firepower to fall to an inferior opponent on their own
floor. Hartford will need to deliver an outstanding all-around performance to
avoid a double-digit setback.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 84, Hartford 61
11/19 10:54:32 ET