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Louisville-Akron preview: Cards and Zips battle for Global Sports Shootout title

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The right to be the 2019 Global Sports Shootout champion is on the line Sunday night inside the KFC Yum Center.

Louisville Cardinals (5-0) vs. Akron Zips (4-1)

Global Sports Shootout

Game Time: 6:05 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ACC Network

Announcers: Mike Monaco (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst)

Officials: Brian Dorsey, Jeb Hartness, Pat Driscoll

Favorite: Louisville by 18

Series: Louisville leads 1-0

Previous Meeting: Louisville won 111-85 on Dec. 10, 2005 in Freedom Hall

Probable Starting Lineups:

Akron’s Season to Date:

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About Akron:

One of the deeper squads on Louisville’s early season schedule, Akron currently has four players averaging double figures in scoring led by Tyler Cheese with 15.2 points per game followed by Loren Cristian Jackson (15.0), Dayton transfer Xeyrius Williams (14.4) and Channel Banks (10.8).

Over its first five games, Akron has seen at least three players score in double digits in each game. Akron had five double-figure scorers against Malone (Williams 17, Banks 15, Cheese 15, Reece 13 and Jackson 12), four against West Virginia (Williams 20, Banks 16, Jackson 16 and Cheese 15) and YSU (Cheese 19, Jackson 19, Banks 12 and Reece 10) and three against N.C. Central (Cheese 20, Williams 19 and Jackson 10) and USC Upstate (Jackson 18, Tribble 11, Reece 10).

The Zips offense starts with Cristian Jackson (LCJ), a bouncy 5’8 point guard who usually initiates John Groce’s halfcourt offense with a high ball screen. Once he uses that screen, LCJ is highly capable of both scoring in the lane and getting to the free-throw line, but he might be more known for setting up Cheese, Banks and Williams, who can all knock down the outside shot at a respectable clip. Banks is the best shooter on the team, but Cheese is Akron’s most gifted all-around offensive player. Williams, a 6’9 transfer from Dayton, is the team’s top rebounder, inside threat, and a terrific defender.

The visitors won’t be afraid to run with Louisville if that’s the game Chris Mack wants on Sunday. Akron ranks 45th in the country in pace, the most up-tempo team U of L has faced so far this season.

Akron has been respectable on offense so far this year, but its real prowess is on the other end of the floor. The Zips have limited their first five opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 37.3, the fourth-best in the country. Like Louisville, they don’t force a ton of turnovers, but thrive on forcing their opponents into challenged shots out of halfcourt sets. Statistically, they were the best defensive team in the Mid-American Conference last season.

Akron enters this game ranked 109th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings of all 353 Division-I teams. Their lone loss is a 94-84 road defeat at the hands of an unbeaten West Virginia team.

Notable:

—Louisville has won 54 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 41-0 in November games played inside the Yum Center.

—Louisville has won 77 of its last 81 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center, a mark which spans over the last nine seasons.

—This is the final game of the Global Sports Shootout for both Louisville and Akron. Both teams are 3-0 in the five-team round-robin event, meaning the winner of Sunday’s game will be the 2019 Global Sports Shootout champion.

—Louisville also appeared in the 2010 Global Sports Shootout, going 4-0 and winning the event.

—A win Sunday would be Louisville’s 150th inside the KFC Yum Center. The Cards are 149-25 inside the building, which debuted at the start of the 2010-11 season.

—Louisville is third in the nation in field goal percentage (.555) and 10th in the nation in three-point percentage (.440).

—Louisville is 2-0 all-time against Akron head coach John Groce, defeating him twice during his time as the head coach at Ohio. U of L defeated Groce’s Bobcats 91-56 in 2008-09 and 59-54 in 2011-12.

—U of L is off to a 5-0 start for the 8th time in the last 11 seasons. The Cardinals have not started a season 6-0 since 2014-15.

—Akron has made the first field goal in all five of its games this season.

—Originally nicknamed the Zippers, athletic director Kenneth “Red” Cochrane officially shortened Akron’s nickname to the Zips in 1950. Twenty-five years earlier a campus-wide contest had been conducted to choose a nickname for the University’s athletics teams. The winner, freshman Margaret Hamlin, received a prize of $10 for Zippers, a $6 pair of rubber overshoes and a brand name of the BF Goodrich Company.

—Darius Perry is third in the ACC in assists (7.0 apg, 17th in the nation), more than four times his average assists from last season. He is second in assist/turnover ratio (4.38).

—Louisville’s football and men’s basketball teams are a combined 8-0 in games played on the ACC Network. The hoops squad is 4-0 on its own.

—Louisville has a 48-6 record during the month of November over the last nine years, winning 28 of its last 32 games in that month.

—Louisville has an 85-6 record against non-conference opponents in the KFC Yum Center. The Cardinals have won 41 of their last 44 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 78, Akron 59