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Louisville-DePaul preview

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Go Cards.

Big East Tournament First Round: Xavier vs DePaul Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (6-2, 1-0) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (7-1)

Game Time: 8:01 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ACC Network

Announcers: Jay Alter (play-by-play) and Malcolm Huckaby (analyst)

Favorite: Louisville by 7.5

Officials: Jamie Luckie, John Gaffney, Brian O’Connell

Series: Louisville leads, 38-21

Last Meeting: Louisville won 79-58 on Feb. 27, 2013 in Rosemont, Ill.

Series History:

Probable Starting Lineups:

Statistics:

DePaul’s Season to Date:

Relevant Videos:

About DePaul:

First-year head coach Tony Stubblefield might have the most naturally gifted DePaul men’s basketball team that any of us have seen in nearly two decades. The Blue Demons are off to a 7-1 start, and their lone loss was a 68-64 defeat at the hands of Loyola-Chicago in a game where they had the lead late.

DePaul has five players averaging over nine points a game in scoring, led by Javon Freeman-Liberty at 21.8 points per game. Freeman-Liberty was selected as the Big East Player of the Week in the first two weeks of the season. The highly talented senior who is in his second season at DePaul after transferring in from Valpo has scored 20 or more points in six of DePaul’s eight games so far this season. He enters Friday night ranked first in the Big East in scoring and defensive rebounds, second in minutes played and rebounding, and third in assist-to-turnover ratio and steals.

As good as Freeman-Liberty is, I’m not certain that sophomore David Jones isn’t more naturally gifted. He’s a double-double threat on any given night, as is the similarly skilled 6’8 Brandon Johnson, a senior by way of Western Michigan and Minnesota.

As a team, the big, physical and athletic Blue Demons rank 30th in the nation in blocked shots per game (5.5), 33rd in rebound margin (+7.9), 29th in field goal percentage (.492) and 31st in defensive rebounding (29.1).

The book is still out on just how good this DePaul team is — they’ve played an extremely light schedule and Friday is their first road game of the season — but there’s no doubt that they are extremely large and extremely long. The Baha Bullies are going to have to be out again on Friday night in order for us to celebrate this holiday accordingly.

Notable:

—Though the record book states otherwise, Louisville has actually never lost to DePaul in men’s basketball. Do your own research.

—According to the “record book,” Louisville has won 10 consecutive games against DePaul. That’s the Cardinals’ third longest active winning streak.

—DePaul is 94-142 versus current members of the ACC.

—Louisville has an all-time record of 18-5 in games played on Dec. 10, winning 15 of its last 16 games played on that date.

—Friday’s game will be Cancer Awareness Night at the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals will honor and celebrate those who have battled and continue to battle against cancer while raising awareness and funds to benefit cancer research. Festivities include awareness-focused giveaways (posters, stickers, and more), a halftime survivor recognition on the court, and fundraising efforts for Jaxen’s Journey – the charity remembering UofL strength and conditioning coach Andy Kettler’s son Jaxen, who lost his life to brain cancer at the age of two in July 2016.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 7.5-point favorite in this game. The Cardinals are 4-1 straight up as a favorite so far this season.

—Louisville has a 48-13 record in the month of December over the last eight years.

—Louisville is 32-2 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.

—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.

—Since 2004, Louisville is 129-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.

—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.

—Louisville has won 155 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 77, DePaul 68