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Louisville-Grand Canyon preview: Cardinals face final test before Kentucky

Alternate headline: KEONTA VERNON

Valley Of The Sun Shootout:  St. John's v Grand Canyon Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (9-2) vs. Grand Canyon Antelopes (9-3)

Game Time: 1:02 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ACC Network Extra/Watch ESPN

Announcers: Kent Taylor (play-by-play) and Jody Demling (analyst)

Officials: Bert Smith, Brent Hampton, Lamar Simpson

Series: Louisville leads, 2-0

Last Meeting: Louisville won 79-70 on Dec. 3, 2016 in Phoenix

Series History:

Louisville 79, Grand Canyon 70 (12/3/16 in Phoenix)
Louisville 111, Grand Canyon 62 (12/5/15 in Louisville)

Probable Starting Lineups:


Relevant Videos:

About Grand Canyon:

In its first year of Division-I postseason eligibility, Grand Canyon was picked as the preseason favorite in the Western Athletic Conference. The ‘Lopes are off to a 9-3 start and have won their last two contests by a combined 63 points.

Dewayne Russell, the player who scored 42 points against Louisville last season, is gone, but Grand Canyon still has Joshua Braun. The senior guard was the preseason WAC Player of the Year, and leads the team in scoring at 14.8 ppg. Casey Benson, a contributor on last season’s Final Four team at Oregon, is chipping in 10.8 points, 5.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Grand Canyon is fifth in the nation in three-point field goal defense (.268), sixth in scoring defense (59.2) and 19th in turnovers forced (17.6). The Antelopes have seven foreign-born players, including three from Australia, on their 2017-18 roster. They finished last season with a 22-9 overall record and an 11-3 mark in conference play.


—Saturday’s contest is the last of a three-game series between these two programs.

—Saturday also marks the final non-conference home game for Louisville this season.

—Louisville has an 18-3 record all-time in games played on Dec. 23, winning its last six on that date.

—Grand Canyon is eligible to compete in the postseason this year for the first time since moving to Division-I.

—Louisville has a 13-1 record against current members of the WAC. It’s only loss came to New Mexico State.

—Keonta Vernon.

—DeWayne Russell’s 42 points against Louisville last season were the most an opposing player had scored against the Cardinals since Joel Curbelo of American University in Puerto Rico scored 47 in 1995.

—Grand Canyon is coached by former Phoenix Suns star “Thunder” Dan Majerle.

— Louisville is second in the nation in blocked shots (8.6 bpg) and ranks 12th in field goal percentage defense (.374) and 25th in FT% (.766).

—U of L has shot a combined 47.8 percent from the field over the last five games (177-of-370), including 39.7 percent from the three-point line.

—Louisville has a 36-6 record during the month of December over the last six years.

—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games in each of the last 15 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).

—Louisville has won 15 of its last 16 games played immediately before Christmas, including the last eight straight. A year ago the Cardinals defeated Kentucky 73-70 on Dec. 21.

—Louisville has won 62 of its last 64 non-conference games at home in the KFC Yum Center. The Cardinals have won 26 of their last 27 home games against non-conference opponents.

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 75, Grand Canyon 63