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Louisville vs. USC Upstate preview

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The second-ranked Cards look to move to 5-0 on the young season.

North Carolina Central v Louisville Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (4-0) vs. USC Upstate Spartans (1-4)

Global Sports Shootout

Game Time: 7:01 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ACC Network

Announcers: Jay Alter (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (analyst)

Officials: Roger Ayers, Lee Cassell, Matt Potter

Favorite: Louisville by 36

Series: First meeting

Probable Starting Lineups:

USC Upstate’s Season to Date:

Lost at Charleston (74-55) on Nov. 5
Defeated Truett-McConnell (103-62) on Nov. 8
Lost at NC Central (73-64) on Nov. 11
Lost at Virginia Tech (80-57) on Nov. 13
Lost at Akron (76-45) on Nov. 18

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About USC Upstate:

It’s hard to look at Louisville’s 2019-20 schedule and not see USC Upstate as the worst team on it. The Spartans have lost 19 of their last 20 games against Division-I opponents and are currently ranked 346th out of 353 Division-I teams in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. This is Upstate’s second season as a member of the Big South Conference, and before the year they were picked to finish 11th in the 11-team league.

USC Upstate’s program was thrown into disarray in October of 2017 when longtime head coach Eddie Payne was forced to resign because of health issues. Kyle Perry took over as the interim head coach before Dave Dickerson, the longtime associate head coach at Ohio State under Thad Matta, was hired as the program’s permanent head coach before last season. The Spartans went just 6-26 in Dickerson’s debut campaign and haven’t shown many signs of improvement so far in year two. After losing four seniors from last year’s team, USC Upstate finds itself ranked 348th in the country in experience.

Dickerson seems to be still tinkering with the idea of what his best lineup is, as no USC Upstate player is currently averaging more than 30 minutes per game, and a whopping 10 players are currently averaging 4.4 ppg or more.

Leading the way for Upstate is sophomore guard Everette Hammond, who is averaging 11.6 ppg despite shooting just 15.6 percent from three. Hammond’s numbers are slightly inflated due to the fact that he scored a game-high 27 points in USC Upstate’s blowout win over Truett-McConnell, an NAIA Division-II school.

In its best game against Division-I competition — a 9-point loss at NC Central last week — Bryan Mozone came off the bench to score 17 points and grab nine rebounds. Mozone is second on the team in scoring at 9.0 ppg and leads the Spartans in rebounding at 5.8 rpg.

If you’ve read this far, God bless you. The fact of the matter is, USC Upstate doesn’t do anything particularly well. They don’t shoot it well, they don’t rebound it well, and they don’t defend well. Their best asset might be taking care of the ball, and most of that is predicated on their competition and the fact that they play at a slow pace.

Dickerson is playing almost exclusively freshmen and sophomores at this point, and it’s clear that only a couple of guys have separated themselves from the herd. That being the case, expect the head coach to play a bunch of guys and throw all of his young men into the proverbial fire this evening.

Again, this will be the worst team Louisville plays this season, and it’s not especially close.

Notable:

—Louisville has won 53 consecutive home games in November, a streak which dates all the way back to a loss to Vanderbilt on November 30, 1972. The Cards are 40-0 in November games played inside the Yum Center.

—Louisville has won 76 of its last 80 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center, a mark which spans over the last nine seasons.

—Louisville leads the nation in field goal percentage (.566) and is ninth in the nation in three-point percentage (.443, leads the ACC).

—USC Upstate will be Louisville’s 326th different opponent in men’s basketball. The Cards are 243-82 in first-time meetings, including 54-2 since 2002-03. The only two losses over that span came against California and Baylor.

—Louisville is already 2-0 against first-time opponents so far this season.

—Wednesday’s game is Louisville’s third in the Global Sports Shootout, a five-team, round-robin event played on campuses of the five participating schools. U of L is 2-0 so far in the event, while USC Upstate is 0-2. The Cards swept the Global Sports Shootout in 2010, its only other appearance in the event.

—Louisville is off to a 4-0 start for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons. The Cardinals have started 5-0 in seven of the last 10 years.

—Darius Perry is third in the ACC in assists (6.5 apg, 23rd in the nation), more than four times his average assists from last season.

—Dating back to last December, USC Upstate has lost 19 of its last 20 games against Division-I opponents. The Spartans have lost 16 consecutive games on the road.

—USC Upstate has never defeated a ranked opponent.

—Louisville’s football and men’s basketball teams are a combined 6-0 in games played on the ACC Network.

—Louisville has a 47-6 record during the month of November over the last nine years, winning 27 of its last 31 games in that month.

—Louisville has an 84-6 record against non-conference opponents in the KFC Yum Center. The Cardinals have won 40 of their last 43 home games against non-conference foes.

—Louisville has won 151 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 18 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 87, USC Upstate 50