Louisville Cardinals (2-9, 0-2) vs. Lipscomb Bisons (7-5)
Game Time: 6 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network Extra
Announcers: Kent Taylor (play-by-play) and Jody Demling (analysis)
Favorite: Lipscomb by 1
All-Time Series: Louisville leads, 2-0
Last Meeting: Louisville won 72-68 on Dec. 12, 2018 in Louisville
Projected Starting Lineups:
G El Ellis (6-3, 180, Sr.)
G/F Mike James (6-5, 215, R-Fr.)
F Jae’Lyn Withers (6-9, 220, R-Jr.)
F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (6-10, 250, So.)
F Sydney Curry (6-8, 270, Sr.)
G Derrin Boyd (6-3, 210, So.)
G Will Pruitt (6-3, 195, So.)
G Trae Benham (6-3, 205, So.)
F Jacob Ognacevic (6-7, 220, So.)
F Ahsan Asadullah (6-10, 275, Gr.)
Lipscomb’s Season to Date:
A perennial powerhouse in the Atlantic Sun for the last couple of decades, Lipscomb is coming off of a season in which it went just 7-11 in conference play, its worst mark since joining the league in 2003-04. The good news for the Bisons is that they were one of the youngest teams in the entire country, and were without star center Ahsan Asadullah for a chunk of the season because of injury.
Lennie Acuff, who has been Lipscomb’s head coach since the 2019-20 season, has a reputation for being one of the best Xs and Os minds in mid/low major basketball. He uses a blend of Princeton and John Beilein-inspired concepts as well as the modern “pace and space” philosophy to consistently generate great shots for his players.
Though his offensive numbers are a bit down this year, Asadullah is still the focal point of Acuff’s offense. He’s been among the highest-used post players in the country for three straight years, and he’s one of the better passing big men in the country/ Last season, Asadullah ranked fifth nationally in assist rate, and Lipsomb uses him to facilitate the offense from a variety of spots on the floor. This is his fifth season with the Bisons, and he actually played 12 minutes (6 points, 4 rebounds) in the team’s loss at Louisville back in 2018 ... Chris Mack’s first season with the Cards.
Lipscomb’s offense— MaxFrontini (@MaxFrontini) December 18, 2022
I like it
Princeton style pic.twitter.com/Av5tmppuvf
The returning backcourt duo of third-year sophomore point guard Will Pruitt and true sophomore Trae Benham has been rock solid this season. Both 6’3 guards are lethal outside shooters (Pruitt is shooting 51.3 percent from three), and both have a great understanding of what Acuff’s offense is supposed to look like and how to run it. Pruitt is coming off a career-high 27 points in the team’s loss at Michigan over the weekend.
The most pleasant surprise for Lipscomb so far this season has been the play of 6’7 junior forward Jacob Ognacevic. In his second season with the Bisons (he played his freshman season at Valparaiso), he has significantly increased his production in virtually every major statistical category. He currently leads the team in scoring at 15.8 ppg, but he has failed to hit double figures in three of Lipscomb’s last four games. Starting hot was an issue for Ognacevic last season, as he led the team in scoring during the non-conference portion of the season (17.2 ppg) but faded in conference play after battling an illness.
NAIA transfer Derrin Boyd (a Princeton, Ky native) is the other Lipscomb player to keep an eye on. Boyd, another 6’3 guard, was an NAIA All-American at Georgetown College and has had little trouble transitioning to the Division-I level where he’s averaging 10.2 ppg so far this season.
As was the case last season, Lipscomb’s biggest issue this season has been on the defensive end. For the second straight year, the Bisons are one of the worst teams in the country at defending the three-point shot (316th in D-I), and aren’t much better at defending inside the arc. Louisville will have open looks from the outside, they’ll just need to shoot it more like they did against Western Kentucky than they did against Florida A&M.
Offensively, Lipscomb is much better. They don’t get to the free-throw line much because of their lack of size and physicality, but Acuff’s system is terrific at generating open looks. If this is another night where Louisville is lazy and inattentive on the defensive end, they’re going to be at risk of giving up a big number.
This is a team that should have beaten Notre Dame earlier this year and played right with Michigan in their most recent outing. They love getting up for these types of games. If Louisville isn’t significantly better than they were on Saturday, the winning streak will end at two.
—Louisville is looking for its first three-game winning streak since a stretch from late December of last year through the first two games of January.
—The Cardinals won their second straight game Saturday with a 61-55 victory over Florida A&M, powered by 13 points and 19 rebounds from Sydney Curry.
—Louisville is 9-2 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Sun, including a 67-66 loss to Bellarmine to open this season.
—Lipscomb is 3-1 so far this season in games coming off of a loss.
—Lipscomb’s Ahsan Asadullah is the first person in ASUN history to score 1400 points, notch 800 rebounds and dish out 300 assists. This season against Michigan, Asadullah eclipsed the 1,000 career rebound mark with his second rebound of the night.
—Louisville has a 52-17 record in the month of December over the last nine years.
—Louisville is 218-13 over the last 20 seasons and 15-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.
—Lipscomb has been in several nail biters over the last four games this season. In its last four games, the matchups have been decided by a total of 18 points with the largest margin during the stretch being an eight point game at Michigan.
—Lipscomb University was established in 1891 by David Lipscomb and James A. Harding as the Nashville Bible School. Nearly 30 years later, the school was renamed David Lipscomb College after Lipscomb passed away. In 1988, Lipscomb became known as David Lipscomb University, but in 1994, the “David” was legally dropped. The school joined the NCAA as a full member in 2004-05.
—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 128-0 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 157 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 71, Lipscomb 70