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Wednesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

When you have to go to school but it’s Rivalry Week.

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—Spread check (football): Kentucky by 3.

—For the first time in nearly 20 years, Duke lost a non-conference game at home Tuesday night. It came at the hands of Stephen F. Austin via one of the more insane finishes we’ve seen in recent college basketball history.

As far as Louisville is concerned, the ramifications here are pretty clear: If the Cards take care of Western Kentucky on Friday, they’re almost certain to be the No. 1 team in the country come next Monday.

—Jon’s never wrong.

—For the fourth time this season, Lamar Jackson has been named the AFC Player of the Week.

—Lamar is now the clear leader in the 2019 MVP race.

—The CJ’s Cameron Teague Robinson goes in-depth on Mekhi Becton, his backstory and where he might be headed after this season.

—I know Bellarmine has led every division of college basketball in field goal percentage in nine of the last 10 years, but now they’re just showing off.

—Kentucky’s players and coaches previewed the Louisville game on Tuesday.

—The U of L women’s basketball team — and our own snicklefritz35 — are off to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam. It’s a loaded tournament that will culminate with the Cards taking on No. 1 Oregon.

—Coach O/Thanksgiving crossover content is the best content.

—With Asia Durr out the door and Louisville in need of star power, Elizabeth Balogun couldn’t have picked a better time to become a Cardinal.

—A talented Western Kentucky team needs to make the most of its opportunity to play Louisville on a neutral court.

—College Football News is rolling with a 24-20 Louisville win on Saturday.

—TuTu Atwell was on “Packer & Durham” this morning talking about, among other things, his reaction when Scott Satterfield was introduced as U of L’e new head coach.

—Louisville hoops class of 2021 commit Bryce Hopkins has dropped 23 and 44 points in the first two games of his junior season.

—LJ Nesbitt’s latest Buckethatism focuses on the football win over Syracuse.

—Rick Pitino is back in Greece to coach both Panathinakos and the Greek Nationa Team, but let’s talk about something more important ... “Licence to Rick?”

Don’t get me wrong, I love the graphic. It making absolutely no sense only makes me love it more.

—The Coastal Division (and possibly an Orange Bowl bid) will be on the line this weekend when Virginia faces Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers haven’t beaten the Hokies since 2003, and a handful of the losses they’ve suffered over that span have been brutal.

—Kentucky’s Nate Sestina will be sidelined for 3-4 weeks with a wrist injury.

—I enjoy the term “Lastar.”

—If you’re headed to Nashville on Friday to watch Louisville take on Western Kentucky, head to The Ainsworth before the game for $3 domestic beers and $5 bourbons.

—The Baltimore Sun writes about how Lamar Jackson used more than talent to rise from the fields of South Florida.

—The guy is just the best.

—Banner Society ranks all 175 of college football’s ridiculous rivalry names.

—In 53 weeks, Lamar Jackson has gone from question mark to the best football player in the world.

“There probably were moments we could have went for it last year, and I was just jogging off the field; I was like, ‘Dang, we’ll just get it next drive,’” Jackson said. “Not like I’m not competitive, but it was just different [at Seattle]. I’m a lot [more] comfortable now than I was last year.”

This ignited the current three-game stretch during which Jackson has completed 76% of his passes (49 of 64) for 608 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating in wins over New England, Cincinnati and Houston has been 141.9 (out of a perfect 158.3).

In last Sunday’s 41-7 rout of the Texans, there was a sequence that characterized Jackson’s mentality for many of his teammates. In the second quarter, Jackson was dropped for a 7-yard loss, and he began clapping while sitting on the turf. One play later, Jackson stepped up in the pocket and drilled an 18-yard touchdown pass through a tight window to tight end Mark Andrews.

”I guess that’s what he has in his DNA,” tight end Nick Boyle said. “He has a great carelessness, which is a good thing. So when something bad happens, he still has a smile on his face and moves to the next play, which is hard for a lot of guys. I think he does that the best I’ve ever seen.”

—According to Jeff Walz, the U of L and UConn women’s basketball teams will resume their series with a game at the Barclays Center in 2020.

—Rick Bozich says Kentucky needs a win in this year’s Governor’s Cup game more than Louisville does.

—Never get tired of seeing stuff like this.

—Or stuff like this:

—After a rough week of tackling against Syracuse, Louisville’s defense is now preparing for Kentucky’s “outstanding” ground attack.

—The Lexington Herald-Leader wonders if Kentucky or Louisville have had the better football season thus far.

—Everyone’s favorite Chris Mack play.

—A Sea of Blue asks if a football or a basketball win over Louisville is more important.

—The Tennesseean serves up five things to know about Friday’s Louisville-WKU game. They also believe that Western’s Charles Bassey is “the best player in the game.” I would take strong issue with that, but hey, people are allowed to believe what they want to believe.

—He’s not wrong.

—Louisville’s Keith Oddo is the guest on the latest episode of The Walk-On Diaries Podcast.

—It’s Thanksgiving Eve, which means it’s time for my annual sharing of this story from The Onion.

—U of L’s Molly Fears has been named the ACC Diver of the Week.

—The Kentucky side continues to be awfully chesty during this rivalry week.

—U of L men’s golf standout Matthias Schmid fired a 3-under-par 68 to finish second overall at the Sun Bowl Marathon All-America Golf Classic at the El Paso Country Club.

—The Athletic’s Danielle Lerner investigates how much better Louisville is at this point in the season than they were a year ago.

New offense, who dis?

Louisville ranks fifth in the nation with its blistering field goal percentage, thanks to a revamped offense that features more off-the-ball screening and back-cutting.

The 3-point accuracy has improved even with fewer attempts, due in large part to Ryan McMahon’s 20-of-35 clip from deep. Louisville’s 2-point percentage has improved too, up to 59 percent from 53 percent.

Mack said he’s generally pleased with how his team has played, save some little things such as the angle on a screen or timing. But he isn’t done building the offense, which should continue to evolve as rotations come together and as the Cardinals encounter new defensive schemes.

“I don’t start the season with this is the number of plays we’re going to run,” Mack said. “It really just depends on how effective the ones that we have in are, where our execution is with it, and then, you know, I’ve got to figure out as a team, what’s our learning curve? What’s too many? So we still have some other stuff that we have to put in and I’m just trying to piecemeal it throughout the season, but we’re a little bit fuller than we were when we started the year.”

Of players who have appeared in all six games, redshirt senior forward Dwayne Sutton has the best shooting percentage, at 75.9 percent (22-of-29). Four other main rotation players — McMahon, Steven Enoch, Samuell Williamson and Jordan Nwora — are shooting better than 50 percent from the field.

Watch closely and you’ll start to recognize a few plays that almost always guarantee a Louisville bucket: a quick BLOB pass to a forward underneath the basket; a player drawing the defense out to the left corner and then throwing a dart back into the paint for a big-man layup; a kick-out 3-pointer on the wing.

Yes, the Cardinals have more weapons on offense. But they’ve also learned how to create better opportunities based on players’ individual strengths.

“Players like me and Jordan aren’t necessarily the best ballhandlers, but we definitely can use screens off the ball better than we can do on the ball,” Sutton said. “That’s what we’ve converted to this year, and that’s why I feel like we’re off to a good start.”

—Michigan, which is coming to the KFC Yum Center on Dec. 3, will have a healthy Franz Wagner for the first time beginning today as the Wolverines play in the Battle 4 Atlantis. You may remember Wagner’s older brother, Mo, from torching the Cards in 2017 NCAA tournament.

—Sometimes you have to take a punch to the face for the cause.

—And finally, safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving to all of you.