LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (7-1) vs. LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE RAJUN CAJUNS (6-2)
Game Time: 1:07 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Drew Deener (play-by-play) and Bob Valvano (analyst)
Spread: Louisville by 21
Officials: Steve Olson, Bert Smith and Brent Hampton
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 8-0
Last Meeting: Louisville won 84-69 in Freedom Hall on 12/23/09
Probable Starting Lineup:
About Louisiana Lafayette:
Entering the game at 6-2, Louisiana Lafayette will be just the third team ranked in Ken Pomeroy's top 100 that the Cardinals have faced this season. Sitting at No. 84, the Rajun Cajuns are currently regarded as the fourth-best opponent on Louisville's non-conference schedule.
After dropping back-to-back contests at Arkansas (76-63) and at No. 20 Baylor (87-68), Lafayette has reeled off four consecutive victories, including an 89-80 triumph at previously 6-1 Louisiana Tech on Wednesday. The win snapped the Bulldogs' 19-game home winning streak.
Nineteen NBA scouts will be in the building Saturday afternoon, and according to Rick Pitino, the two biggest reasons for that are Louisiana Lafayette stars Shawn Long (20.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 3.1 bpg) and Elfrid Payton (19.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.5 spg). Despite returning all five starters, including Long and Payton (a preseason Wooden Award candidate), the Rajun Cajuns were picked to finish just fourth in the Sun Belt Conference before the season.
--Louisville leads the nation in turnover margin (+11.0) and is eighth in fewest turnovers per game (9.3). U of L has committed 10 or fewer turnovers in eight of its last 11 games dating back to last year.
--Russ Smith needs two steals to reach 200 in his career. He is currently 56 steals behind the career record of 254 set by Peyton Siva.
--With a 6-2 record heading into the weekend, the Cajuns are off to their best start since going 7-2 to open the 1995-96 season. Last year, the Cajuns did not win their sixth game until Dec. 29th and ultimately finished just 13-20.
--Louisiana Lafayette's win over cross-state rival Louisiana Tech on Wednesday snapped the Bulldogs' 19-game home winning streak.
--Luke Hancock is now just 10 points away from eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for his college career.
--Remember when we almost lost to these guys in the first round of the tournament in '05? Remember how good Tiras Wade was? That was really scary.
--The Cajuns were featured prominently in the latest NCAA stats, which were released on Monday (Dec. 2). Elfrid Payton is 13th in steals (2.5), 43rd in assists (5.0) and 52nd in scoring (19.9). Shawn Long is sixth in rebounding (11.6), 10th in double-doubles (5), 25th in blocks (3.1) and 45th in scoring (20.1).
--Louisiana Lafayette ranks 13th in the country in points per game (87.5).
--Louisiana Lafayette has lost 12 straight games against ranked opponents, a streak which dates back to a victory over Mississippi State in November of 2002.
--Louisville has won 24 straight non-conference home games by an average of 22.8 points since a loss to Kentucky on Dec. 31, 2010.
--Louisville won the 2013 Division-1 national championship.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 86, Louisiana Lafayette 67