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Hapless Knights come calling on high-flying Cardinals

The fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals are league tilt with the struggling Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.

A member of the Northeast Conference, FDU is off to an 0-2 start in league play and owns a 1-7 overall record. The last five outings have resulted in defeat, and the fact that the Knights lost to Stony Brook on Wednesday by a 70-46 final doesn't bode well for the team heading into today's affair. All six of FDU's true road games have ended in defeat.

As for Louisville, it has yet to taste defeat, and all but two of its eight victories have come by double figures. On Wednesday, the club crushed IUPUI as expected by a 90-60 final to move to 7-0 in front of the home crowd. The Big East Conference portion of the schedule begins on December 28 and will yield many major challenges for coach Rick Pitino's club, which has faced a rather soft schedule thus far with the exception of a victory over Vanderbilt.

It comes as no surprise that Louisville has won both of its previous meetings with Fairleigh Dickinson.

There are four double-digit scorers on the FDU roster, but a complete lack of depth beyond that foursome has limited the Knights to 62.5 ppg. They are permitting 72.6 ppg to opponents and have committed over 17 turnovers per tilt. Lonnie Hayes leads the Knights with 15.3 ppg on 34.8 percent shooting from the field, and Melquan Bolding checks in with 14.2 ppg. Kinu Rochford (10.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and George Goode (10.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg) round out the aforementioned foursome. Goode posted 13 points and 11 rebounds in the ugly loss to Stony Brook last time out, and Mouhamed Lo contributed 12 points. The Knights turned the ball over 21 times in that affair and shot just 34 percent from the floor, the two most obvious reasons for the setback.

Taking a look at the 30-point romp over IUPUI earlier this week, Louisville shot a blistering 55.6 percent from the floor while limiting its overmatched opponent to 36.1 percent. The Cardinals forced 20 turnovers and held a 17-7 edge in points from the foul line. Chris Smith paced four double-digit scorers in the win with 19 points, while Gorgui Dieng added 18 points and 12 rebounds. Russ Smith posted 12 points and Kyle Kuric had 11 points for the Cardinals, who are averaging 70.5 ppg this season. The play of the team at the defensive end of the court has been most impressive, however, as Louisville is holding foes to 52.0 ppg on 34.4 percent shooting from the field, including 29.7 percent from behind the arc. Kuric continues to lead the way with 12.3 ppg and Smith adds 10.9 ppg for Pitino's team, which relies far more on depth than spectacular contributions from one or two players.