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Louisville-Texas Tech preview: Cards still searching for first win

The Cardinals will face their second straight top 25 opponent in Maui.

Maui Invitational - Louisville v Arkansas Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (0-4) vs. No. 21 Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-1)

Maui Invitational Consolation Bracket

Game Time: 2:30 p.m.

Location: Lahaina Civic Center: Lahaina, Maui, HI

Television: ESPN2

Announcers: John Schriffen (play-by-play) and Daymeon Fishback (analyst)

Favorite: Texas Tech by 13.5

Series: Texas Tech leads, 1-0

Only Meeting: Texas Tech won 70-57 on Dec. 10, 2019 at the Jimmy V Classic in New York

Projected Starting Lineups:


Relevant Videos:

Texas Tech’s Season to Date:

About Texas Tech:

Louisville starts its run in the consolation bracket of the Maui Invitational against a Texas Tech team that will be looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season. The 21st-ranked Red Raiders stymied No. 10 Creighton’s free-flowing offense for about 32 minutes on Monday before the Bluejays got it rolling and pulled away late for a 76-65 victory. Mark Adams’ team had allowed an average of 52.7 points over its first three games but gave up 45 in just the second half to Creighton.

Per usual, defense is going to be the calling card of this Texas Tech team, a program which has become the master of the “no middle” defense. Louisville experienced the struggles that come with trying to score against the Red Raiders three years ago when they carried the No. 1 ranking in the country into Madison Square Garden and walked out with a 70-57 loss.

For Adams, it’s a good thing that he’s a system coach, because nine of his top 10 scorers from last season are gone. The only key returnee is senior forward Kevin Obanor — perhaps still best known from Oral Roberts’ run to the Sweet 16 two years ago — who currently leads the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (5.8 rpg). The 6’8 Obanor is a three-level scorer who will be an exceptional challenge for Louisville to contain.

Oregon transfer De’vion Harmon has scored in double figures in three of the team’s four games and is averaging better than three assists per contest. He controls the Texas Tech offense and is the engine who makes them go. He stands just 6’2, but he’ll be a handful for El Ellis.

Paris native Daniel Batcho is the team’s top interior threat. The 6’11 sophomore played an extremely limited role for the Red Raiders last season but has made the most of his uptick in court time. He was terrific in the paint against an undersized Creighton team, connecting on 7-of-12 field goal attempts and leading Texas Tech with 17 points.

Louisville fans should be familiar with guards Kerwin Walton and Elijah Fisher. The former was a contributor for North Carolina, while the latter is a highly-touted freshman who was briefly a Kenny Payne target before he reclassified and pledged his allegiance to Adams.

Texas Tech led the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency last season and ranks 12th in the same category at the moment. The “no middle” defense employs the same principles and looks the same as it did when Chris Beard was pacing the sidelines in Lubbock. The Red Raiders simply will not allow opponents to get the ball into the middle of their defense. They dare ballhandlers to drive, force them to the baseline, and then feast on poor decision-making.

Like all of the best defensive systems in college basketball — Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin — this only works if you have five guys on the floor who all have a full understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing. With four starters gone from last season’s squad, it’s understandable that the Red Raiders haven’t looked quite as stellar defensive through the first month of this season and they did a year ago. Even so, this a team that has put the absolute clamps on its opponents in seven of the eight halves it has played so far.

The only downside to the no middle philosophy is that the Red Raiders will often leave space on the perimeter. This is especially dangerous against a well-coached team loaded with shooters like Creighton, which is how the Bluejays were able to pull away on Monday.

For a great extended read on the best way to score against the Texas Tech defense, go here.

Texas Tech will also “ice” the high ball screen, which means they will force the ballhandler to drive away from the side where the screen is being set. This is something that El Ellis and company haven’t seen a lot of, but which the Red Raiders are experts at.

Louisville’s guards are going to have to show better decision-making than they’ve displayed so far this season, and then guys are going to have to step up and knock down the outside shot at a higher clip than they did against Arkansas.

If the Cardinals bring the same defensive energy that they brought in the first half against Arkansas, they should be able to keep the Red Raiders from running away. The key will be cutting down on the cheap points off of turnovers that have plagued them all season long.

Effort on defense, execution on offense, and they’ve got a shot to notch victory No. 1.


—Louisville is off to an 0-4 start for the first time since the 1940-41 season.

Louisville has participated in the Maui Invitational three times before in 1989, 2000 and 2004. The Cardinals are 5-5 all-time in the event and 21-12 overall in the state of Hawaii after Monday’s loss to Arkansas.

—This is the first time Louisville has played back-to-back AP Top 25 opponents since the 2019-20 season, when it faced No. 19 Kentucky on Dec. 28 and No. 18 Florida State on Jan. 4. UofL has won 45 of its last 102 games against AP ranked opponents. The Cardinals are 62-70 against Top 25 teams over the last 12 years.

—Through four games, Louisville has 72 turnovers against 31 assists. The ratio was 22:4 against Arkansas, marking the first time in program history the Cardinals had at least turnovers and fewer than five assists.

—Louisville has a 244-68 record against non-conference opponents over the last 21 seasons (includes post-season).

—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 last week 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: Texas Tech 70, Louisville 60