LOUISVILLE (3-0) vs. BYU (4-0)
Time: 9 p.m.
Site: Orleans Hotel Arena: Las Vegas, NV
Favorite: Louisville by 5.5
Probable Starting Lineups
G Andre McGee 13.7 ppg
G Jerry Smith 11.7 ppg
F Terrence Williams 9.0 ppg
F Earl Clark 15.3 ppg
C Derrick Caracter 9.7 ppg
G Ben Murdock 4.5 ppg
G Sam Burgess 10.3 ppg
F Lee Cummard 15.5 ppg
F Jonathan Tavernari 13.0 ppg
C Trent Plaisted 16.5 ppg
For all its success over the past 12 months, this Louisville basketball team has consistently had a hard time slowing down talented big men. It's a trend they'd like to see die tonight when they take on likely the most talented player they've faced this season in BYU center Trent Plaisted.
The 6-11 junior has scored in double figures in each of BYU's four games, and is averaging 16.5 points with a high of 21 coming last week against Jackson State. He doesn't rebound particularly well and he's not all that imposing a presence on the defensive end, but he's an NBA-caliber athlete with an offensive skill set that could end up earning him Mountain West Conference Player of the Year honors.
Louisville held UNLV to just 48 points, and the biggest reason for that was the Runnin' Rebs' 6-of-30 three-point shooting. But the bulk of those shots from the outside were relatively uncontested, something the Cards won't be able to get away with against a BYU team shooting 46.3% from beyond the arc and hit 13 treys in a 97-73 win over Hartford.
U of L played almost entirely zone for the first 15 minutes against UNLV, before going man off of misses and zone off of makes for the last five minutes of the half. It was the Cardinal man-to-man pressure that sparked the late run to push the final margin to 20, so it will be interesting to see how Rick Pitino's team opens the game defensively.
If Louisville does go zone early, the two happiest guys on the floor will likely be Lee Cummard and Jonathan Tavernari. The two are averaging 28.5 points between them, and a large chunk of that is due to a combined 16 made three-pointers.
The Cougars like to get up and down the floor and are averaging 90.2 points per game, but they do a good job of not turning the ball over. Most of the credit for that can be placed on the shoulders of senior point guard Ben Murdock, who has dished out 21 assists to just three turnovers, for a sparkling ratio of 7:1. Murdock's willingness to share the ball has apparently rubbed off on his teammates, as 83 of BYU's 123 baskets have been credited with an assist.
The other guy the Cardinals have to keep their eye on is freshman guard Jimmy Fredette, who is coming off of a career-high 19-point performance against Hartford. Fredette has taken (16-14) and made (9-5) more three-pointers than two-pointers.
BYU doesn't have the athletes to match up man-to-man with Louisville, but if the Cards fail to recognize shooters in transition - something they've done against lesser teams up to this point - or let Plaisted have his way in the paint, the Cougars have a serious shot to pull the upset.
--The winner of tonight's game will play the winner of tonight's Old Dominion/North Carolina contest tomorrow night at 10:30 p.m.
--Louisville owns a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with BYU, but the last time the two met, the Cougars topped the Cards 75-60 in the second round of the 1994 Great Alaska Shootout.
--BYU has scored 74, 90, 100 and 97 in its first four games, and won those games by 40, 21, 39 and 24 points.
CC Prediction: Louisville 76, BYU 72