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Louisville-Simmons College preview

Year two of the Kenny Payne era is set to begin with what should be a lopsided victory.

Virginia Tech v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Louisville Cardinals (0-0) vs. Simmons College Falcons (0-0)

Exhibition Game One

Game Time: 7 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: ESPN+/ACC Network Extra

Announcers: Kent Taylor (play-by-play) and Jody Demlng (analyst)

Favorite: No line

Series: Louisville leads, 1-0 (exhibitions only)

Only Meeting: Louisville won 90-41 on Nov. 3, 2018 in Louisville (exhibition)


Relevant Videos:

About Simmons College:

Led by second-year head coach (and former Cardinal) Tony Branch, Simmons College is coming off of a solid 14-13 campaign that saw them end 2022-23 ranked in the top 10 of the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) rankings. That season followed up a disastrous 2021-22 that saw the Falcons go 2-20 and suffer a number of 50+ point losses.

Gavin Withrow, a 5’11 sophomore guard who played at Louisville Male High School, is the team’s leading returner in both points (12.2 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg). The Simmons College roster, which features only two seniors, includes two players from Male High, one from Seneca, one from Doss, one from Waggener, one from Central, and one from Southern.

We saw this five years ago when they came to the Yum Center, but Simmons College does not play at a level that should allow them to be remotely competitive with even the worst Louisville team. This won’t be another Lenoir-Rhyne situation — yes, LR ended up finishing last in their conference, but that’s still a different level of basketball, I promise. The Cards should face very little resistance in their exhibition opener.


—Louisville’s 39-game winning streak in exhibition play was snapped with last year’s 57-47 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne. The exhibition loss was U of L’s first ever against a college opponent, and its first overall since Dec. 2, 2000 when Denny Crum’s final Cardinal team fell 87-86 in double overtime to the Global Sports All-Stars.

—The Cards did bounce back with an 80-73 win over Chaminade in its second exhibition game.

—Simmons College is coached by former Louisville player Tony Branch, a captain on the 1980 national championship team and a U of L Athletics Hall of Famer. The athletic director at Simmons is Jerry Eaves, who was also a member of the 1980 title squad and the U of L Athletics Hall of Fame. More information about Branch and Eaves’ careers at U of L is available below.

—Louisville competed in its annual Red and White Scrimmage on Oct. 11. Tre White led the way for the Red team with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists across the 32-minute scrimmage. Mike James went 4-for-5 from 3-point range for 12 points, and Dennis Evans had 12 points (including five dunks), five blocks and five rebounds. Skyy Clark and JJ Traynor paced the White team with 11 points apiece.

—Louisville’s 28 losses last season broke the school record for most losses in a season. The previous high was 20 in 1997-98.

—Louisville lost nine games by 20 points or more last season, the most 20-point losses in one season in the history of Cardinal basketball.

—Louisville is returning 47.1% of its scoring, 57.1% of its rebounding and 28.1% of its assists from last season. They have eight newcomers who together created the sixth-best recruiting class in the country, per 247Sports.

—Kenny Payne is the only Division I men’s basketball head coach in the country who was a NBA Draft pick, as well as a national champion as a player and a coach (including as an assistant).

Prediction: Louisville 88, Simmons College 51