Louisville, KY – A battle of ranked foes kicks off Big East ranked Louisville.
Georgetown is an impressive 10-1 on the year, its only loss coming against nationally-ranked Kansas in Hawaii more than a month ago. Since then, the Hoyas have reeled off eight straight victories, the most recent of which being a 70-59 decision at home against Memphis. It was the second time this season GU had topped the Tigers, as it also did so in Hawaii back on November 23. The team's only other win of note took place at Alabama (57-55) on December 1. Following this clash, the Hoyas will return home for two straight, taking on Providence and Marquette in the next week.
Off to its best start in 37 years, Louisville is a perfect 12-0 to this point in the season, and so far 11 games have taken place in front of the hometown faithful. The Cardinals knocked off visiting Western Kentucky in their most recent outing, 70-60, giving them their 20th straight home win -- UofL's longest home winning streak since also taking 20 in a row at Freedom Hall from January 29, 1966 to December 1, 1967. Following tonight's clash, the Cards will take a quick break from league play this Saturday to do battle with bitter rival Kentucky in Lexington.
Georgetown owns a 7-4 edge in the all-time series with Louisville, and the Hoyas won the most recent meeting, 62-59, on January 31, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Jason Clark scored 18 points to lead four Hoyas in double figures, as they wound up claiming a double-digit win at home over Memphis last week. As mentioned, it was Georgetown's second win this season over the Tigers, who made good on only 3-of-13 three-point tries and committed 18 turnovers in the game. GU logged a 38-29 rebounding advantage and outscored Memphis at the foul line, 21-12. Hollis Thompson added 17 points and nine boards for the Hoyas, while Markel Starks finished with 14 points and Henry Sims chipped in with a dozen. Clark (15.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg), Thompson (14.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Sims (12.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.7 apg) are all averaging double figures in scoring this season for a Georgetown team that is putting up 76.9 ppg, which is nearly 20 points more than it allows (57.6). The Hoyas are shooting a rock-solid 48.7 percent from the field, knocking down about 37 percent of their three-point attempts along the way, while yielding shooting percentages of .388 overall and .274 to the opposition. Favorable margins in both rebounding (+6.9) and turnovers (+3.6) have also helped the cause.
Key reserve Russ Smith has really shined for Louisville of late, as he scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Cardinals past Western Kentucky in their most recent outing. Smith, who put up a career-best 24 points in UofL's 95-87 win over Memphis six days earlier, hit 7-of-15 field goal attempts and 8-of-10 free throws against the Hilltoppers, who committed 18 turnovers and were outscored at the charity stripe, 21-8. Louisville was guilty of 20 turnovers itself, but in addition to Smith's exploits, the team got 15 points from Kyle Kuric and a double-double (13 points, 15 rebounds) from Gorgui Dieng. Kuric continues to pace the Cards through the first 12 games, netting 13.3 ppg on the strength of his 50.4 percent field goal efficiency. Dieng is averaging a double-double with 10.8 points and 10.2 caroms per contest, while Russ Smith contributes 10.5 ppg and Chris Smith pitches in with 10.4 ppg. As a team, Louisville is averaging 73.2 ppg and coming up with more than 41 rebounds per tilt, but where the Cardinals really earn their keep is at the defensive end, as foes are scoring just 56.9 ppg in hitting a mere 36.3 percent of their total shots.