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Monday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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Happy rivalry week.

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—Spread check (football): Louisville by 2.5.

—Kentucky’s depth chart for Saturday is out.

—Matt Fortuna of The Athletic has a feature up on Malik Cunningham, who he says has been on a “Lamar Jackson-like tear.”

Cunningham enters rivalry week having amassed 755 yards from scrimmage and 12 total touchdowns across the past two games, leading the Cardinals to season highs in points in each of the past two weeks as they became bowl-eligible.

Cunningham counts the 2019 Music City Bowl win over Mississippi State as his best college memory to date. That victory punctuated a surprise 8-5 showing in Scott Satterfield’s debut season. But Cunningham has a chance to author an even better ending this week and in the postseason.

Last year’s Governor’s Cup was not played because of the pandemic. In 2018 and ‘19, the Wildcats beat the Cardinals by a combined score of 101-23. Louisville has not beaten its rival since 2017, when Cunningham was redshirting behind a signal caller by the name of Lamar Jackson.

“It means a lot,” Cunningham said by phone Sunday. “I know what’s at stake. We all know what’s at stake, and it just means so much not just to this team but to the city of Louisville and the state. It’s been two years (since playing) and they left a bad taste in our mouth, so this year we’re looking to change that.”

—Louisville Report’s Matt McGavic shares some final thoughts on the football team’s trouncing of Duke.

—Cardinal Authority updates where the Cardinal football team stands in the national stat rankings.

—Malik doing his best Lamar impression both on and off the field this week.

—The top-ranked Louisville volleyball team stayed unbeaten with a 3-0 sweep of Duke on Friday. The Cards will face perhaps their toughest test of the season on Wednesday when they take on No. 3 Pitt in Pittsburgh. The Cards outlasted the Panthers in five sets last month at L&N Credit Union Arena.

—Pro Football Focus awards Louisville with its Offensive Line of the Week honor.

—Jeff Greer’s latest U of L hoops newsletter looks at the obvious changes in this team through the season’s first four games.

Even though Louisville’s offensive efficiency numbers rank worse than the defensive numbers, I have less concern about that side of the ball. The spacing has been good. The pace, in terms of passing and moving off the ball, improved a lot against Navy and has to stay that way. Nevertheless, as I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, Louisville isn’t going to shoot 25% from 3 a whole lot this season, and as much as shot selection and turnovers have been issues for the Cards, the biggest impediment to their offense has been missing good looks from 3. They were 14 of 57 from 3 against Southern and Furman — and 10 of 24 vs. Navy, a much better offensive performance. Almost half of Louisville’s shots (44%) have been 3s (and not all of them have been great looks but many have) but only a third of Louisville’s points come from 3s. That has to change.

There is all kinds of evidence that supports this belief: Louisville will improve from 3, and Locke and Jarrod West hold the keys to that. Locke, a career 39.8% 3-point shooter, is just 8 of 26 to start his Louisville career. He is too good of a shooter for those struggles to continue all campaign. (The good news is Locke is 9 of 16 on 2s, which is a small sample size but also a double-digit-percentage improvement on his 2-point shooting in his previous three college seasons.) Same goes for West, a career 37.4% 3-point shooter who is just 3 of 11 so far.

Get used to the evolving statistical profile on offense: Louisville’s floor spacing will likely hinder its ability to offensive rebound the way it has in the past. Mack’s teams typically got around 30-33% of their own misses in seasons past, but this campaign is unlike any other in his tenure with the new offensive scheme. Louisville has more scorers on the perimeter and more space to attack in and around the lane but fewer bodies close to the rim to pursue offensive putbacks. The Cards got 25.9% of their misses through the first three games. In theory, you make up for putback points with easy transition points.

—Here’s the U of L recap of the women’s basketball team’s road triumph over Washington.

—This weekend’s Bayou Classic game between Grambling and Southern will be the first NCAA football game where coach-to-player electronic communication will be permitted. Could be a sign of things to come.

—The 2021-22 Louisville track and field schedule has been released.

—When Rocco speaks, the people must listen.

—Louisville baseball alums Zack Burdi, Kyle Funkhouser, Corey Ray and Nick Solak will be the featured guests at the 2022 Leadoff Dinner. The annual event is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 at The Galt House Hotel.

—The latest Hoop Vision newsletter looks at, among other things, how Houston manhandled Virginia.

—Pretty good.

—Louisville football commit Izaiah Reed is now ranked as the 120th-best overall player and the 10th best OT in the 2022 class by On3.

—Brett McMurphy’s latest bowl projections have Louisville taking on Houston in the Military Bowl.

—Dez Fitzpatrick found an NFL endzone for the first time on Sunday.

—The Louisville men’s and women’s swim and dive teams both finished second at the Purdue Invitational over the weekend.

—Bobby Petrino’s Missouri State Bears have earned an at-large bid into the FCS playoffs.

—Postgame notes from the Detroit Mercy win:

-Louisville is now 7-1 all-time against Detroit Mercy, including a perfect 6-0 mark against the Titans in Louisville.

-The Cardinals are now 48-1 in the KFC Yum! Center during the month of November.

-Louisville put together a strong offensive showing in the first half for the second straight game.

-UofL shot 58.1 percent (18-of-31) over the first 20 minutes on Saturday after shooting 58.6 percent in the opening half of Monday’s win over Navy.

-The Cardinals closed out the first half on an 11-0 run and then scored the opening seven points of the second half.

-The 18-0 run was the largest of the season for Louisville and took the Cardinals from down 35-31 to their largest lead of the game at 49-35.

-UofL held Detroit Mercy scoreless for a span of 7:34 across the two halves.

-Louisville won the rebounding battle 37-33 on Saturday, just the second time the Cardinals have had more rebounds than the opposition through four games.

-The Cardinals grabbed double digit offensive rebounds for the second time on the year (Southern).

-UofL held the Titans to just 40.7 percent (24-for-59) from the field for the game.

-Louisville has held all four opponents under 43 percent from the field this season.

-Louisville tallied nine steals in the win, the third time in four games the Cardinals have picked up at least nine.

—Happy Maui Invitational Monday to you and yours. Tonight, we are all Silverswords.

—Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon are among those recently becoming aware of Malik Cunningham’s existence.

—Missed every day.

—A quick look at how former Cards in the NFL fared on Sunday.

—No one associated with the U of L men’s basketball team was pleased with the way the squad played in its Saturday win over Detroit Mercy.

—Thank goodness Dre Davis stepped up for the Cards when he did.

—Legendary obit.

—Malik Cunningham gets a shoutout in this CFB weekend roundup from The Athletic for becoming just the second QB in FBS history to throw for 300 yards and run for 200 in the same game.

—UK defensive coordinator Brad White says he doesn’t expect to get a lot of sleep this week as he prepares his guys to face Cunningham.

—I’ll really miss Dino if Syracuse gives him the axe.

—You can read a transcript of Mike Pegues’ post-Detroit comments here.

—U of L QB commit Khalib Johnson scored the game-winning touchdown for his high school squad in the second round of the Alabama state playoffs on Friday.

—Saturday info for this weekend’s Bahamas hoops tournament:

If Louisville wins, they’ll play the Maryland/Richmond winner for the championship at 10 a.m. on Saturday on CBS Sports Network. The losers of Thursday’s game will meet at 12:30 p.m. on FloSports.

—This is incredible.

—Monty Montgomery is a great dude.

—The CJ takes a closer look at why the women’s basketball team is taking a West Coast road trip.

—Louisville is up from No. 46 to No. 31 in Bill Connelly’s latest S&P rankings. Kentucky is No. 35.

—Norika Konno rules.

—Buried in this press release is the news that Louisville will play Bellarmine in men’s basketball in each of the next two seasons.

—Louisville football’s strength of schedule ranking currently sits at No. 32. Kentucky is No. 66.

—ACC hoops tonight:

Charleston Southern at Georgia Tech (7 p.m./ACC Network)
Virginia vs. Georgia (Legends Classic) (7 p.m./ESPNU)
Missouri vs. Florida State (Jacksonville Classic) (8:30 p.m.)
The Citadel at No. 5 Duke (9 p.m./ACC Network)
Saint Mary’s vs. Notre Dame (Maui Invitational) (7:30 p.m./ESPN2)

—The Belle of Louisville is hosting a Christmas shopping market for the first time ever.

—I can’t get over this list.

—Happy 7-year anniversary to Louisville’s win over Notre Dame in South Bend.

—Will this be the first time since 2016 that Kentucky and Louisville actually play a close a game in football?

—And finally, the Mike Rutherford Show is kicking off rivalry week from 3-6 on 1450 The Big X. You can stream the show here.