Louisville Cardinals (0-2) vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (2-0)
Game Time: 6 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Robert Lee (play-by-play) and Cory Alexander (analyst)
Favorite: Louisville by 5.5
Series: Louisville leads, 1-0
Only Meeting: Louisville won, 80-53, on Nov. 23, 2009 in Louisville
Projected Starting Lineups:
Appalachian State’s Season to Date:
About Appalachian State:
For the third time in as many games, Louisville will be facing a mid/low-major squad that has a recent tradition of winning and postseason success.
Appalachian State still features multiple players from the 2020-21 team that played its way into the NCAA tournament. That squad won four games in four days to claim the Sun Belt tournament title before being defeated, 54-53, by Norfolk State in the NCAA tournament’s First Four. ASU fielded an even stronger team last season, one which won 19 games and went 12-6 in league play, but was upset by Georgia State in the Sun Belt semis.
Led by head coach Dustin Kerns, the Mountaineers have now posted winning seasons in three consecutive years, the first time the program has achieved that feat since the mid-’90s. With the core of that run now moved on from the program, Kerns is relying on a talented group of newcomers as well as an expected uptick in production from some returnees to keep the positive momentum in Boone rolling.
This season’s ASU squad was picked to finish in the middle of the pack of the 14-team Sun Belt, and saw 6’5 senior forward Donovan Gregory earn preseason all-conference accolades. Gregory averaged double figures in scoring in each of the last two seasons and is off to a solid start in 2022-23, averaging 11 points, 5 assists and 2 steals in his team’s first two contests.
Unlike Louisville’s first two opponents, Appalachian State is a program whose recent success has been more about its defense than its offense. The Mountaineers only allowed one opponent (Duke) to score more than 80 points against them last season, and only two scored more than 78.
“A lot of [our] key defensive players are gone,” Kerns said before the season. “I need to get this team to understand why the teams before them have won, and that’s because of the defense. I think this can be one of our best offensive teams, but we need to bring the defensive intensity.”
To try and bolster its offense, especially from behind the three-point line, Kerns went out and got transfers Tyree Boykin of D3 Union College Carvell Teasett from Northwestern State, and Dibaji Walker from UMass. All three players shot better than 37 percent from deep last season. Boykin has been especially effective so far this season, and currently leads the team in scoring at 17.0 ppg. He’s hit four three-pointers in both of his first two games at the Division-I level.
Terence Harcum is the team’s top returning shooter from last season, and he seems to have embraced the larger role that Herns has given him for this campaign. He scored 16 points and handed out four assists in game one, and followed that up with a 14-point, three assist effort three days later.
Even when they haven’t been gifted with a ton of knockdown shooters, Kerns’ offense has always relied heavily on the three-point shot. ASU took 36 in its season-opening rout of Warren Wilson, and then hoisted 32 in their overtime win over North Carolina Central.
JUSTIN WRIGHT!— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) November 11, 2022
NC Central forces overtime against App State!pic.twitter.com/z2F8zzWpc5
If Louisville doesn’t do a better job of locating shooters and contesting outside shots than they have in their first three games, the Cardinals could certainly be staring at an 0-3 start this evening.
Though the sample size is limited, recent history tells us that Appalachian State is going to come into the KFC Yum Center tonight and take great care of the ball, shoot a ton of threes, attempt to turn the Cards over a great deal on defense, and not really compete much on the offensive glass.
Appalachian State is a solid mid-major team with a good coach and some recent history of success. Having said that, if Louisville plays with considerable effort and attention to detail, this is a game they should win. Of course the same could have been said before both of their previous games this season.
—Louisville is off to an 0-2 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Cardinals have not lost their first three games of a season since 1986-87.
—U of L is the first team to lose both of its first two games of a season by a single point since at least 1997.
—For the first time in program history, Louisville has lost three consecutive games by a single point. The Cardinals also lost to Virginia by one in the second round of last season’s ACC tournament.
—Appalachian State is seeking its first 3-0 start to a season since 1997-98.
—Louisville had won 59 consecutive home games in November, a streak which had dated all the way back to 1972, before last season’s loss to Furman. The Cards have now lost two straight and three of their last four.
—Louisville is still 48-3 in November home games inside the KFC Yum Center.
—ASU currently ranks first in the nation in blocks per game (9.5) with 19 through their first two contests. Justin Abson, a 6’8 freshman reserve, has eight blocks in those two games.
—Louisville is 22-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference.
—Louisville has won 89 of its last 97 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center, a mark which spans over the last 11 seasons.
—App State scored the most points in school history during its season opener in a 142-74 victory over Warren Wilson. The Mountaineers’ 142 points were the second-highest of any team this season. App State made 39 free throws, the most of any team in a game this season at a clip of 90.7%.
—Louisville has a 244-66 record against non-conference opponents over the last 21 seasons (includes post-season), including a 176-19 record in home regular season non-conference games.
—Inside the KFC Yum Center, Louisville has a 96-10 record in non-conference games.
—This will be Louisville’s final game before leaving for next week’s Maui Invitational. The Cardinals will open the event at 5 p.m. next Monday against No. 9 Arkansas.
—Louisville is 217-13 over the last 20 seasons and 14-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.
—Louisville’s loss to Wright State on Saturday was its first in four seasons when shooting better than 50 percent from the field. U of L is 166-8 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
—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 131-0 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 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 73, Appalachian State 64