Coral Gables, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Winners of three straight, the ninth- ranked Louisville Cardinals begin a two-game road trip, starting with Tuesday's ACC showdown with the Miami Hurricanes at the BankUnited Center.
Rick Pitino's Cardinals got their revenge on an earlier road loss at North Carolina, by topping the Tar Heels, 78-68 in overtime on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center. The victory was the third straight and the fourth in the last five outings for Louisville, which moved to 18-3 on the season, with a 6-2 league ledger.
Jim Larranaga's Hurricanes have been in and out of the Top-25 this season, but are currently on the outside looking in, following back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech (70-53) and most recently, Florida State (55-54). With the loss to the Seminoles on Sunday, Miami fell to 14-7 overall, with a mere 4-4 conference mark.
Louisville has won seven of the nine previous meetings with Miami, including the last one, an 82-59 rout at Freedom Hall back in 2006.
It wasn't a pretty first half for Louisville at home against North Carolina on Saturday, but the Cardinals made up for it, overcoming an 11-point deficit at the break to force overtime and then cruise past the Tar Heels in the extra session for a 10-point victory. Louisville shot a mere .338 from the floor in the game, but received huge outings by its two star players in the win. All- America candidates Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell both posted double- doubles. Rozier recorded his first-ever double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Harrell finished with 22 points and 15 boards. Chris Jones had a nice stat line as well with 17 points in the victory.
The Cardinals aren't known for their big offensive performances this season, as they enter this game averaging a modest 73.6 ppg on a pedestrian .437 shooting. Where the team has usually excelled though is at the defensive end, where opponents manage just 59.0 ppg (25th nationally) on .376 shooting (16th nationally). The team is also ninth nationally in total forced turnovers (196) and 15th in turnover margin (+4.0). Louisville has a potent one-two punch in Rozier and Harrell. Rozier ranks second in the ACC in scoring at 18.3 ppg, while Harrell is seventh at 15.3 ppg. Harrell is also fourth in the league in rebounding (9.2 rpg). Depth comes in the form of Jones (13.6 ppg) and Wayne Blackshear (11.4 ppg).
Miami led by as many as 16 points in the first half, but allowed the Seminoles to come all the way back. Sheldon McClellan missed a shot in the lane as time expired, giving FSU the victory at home. McClellan led Miami in defeat with 13 points. Davon Reed added 11 points, but star guard Angel Rodriguez struggled, going just 3-of-11 from the floor and tallying just eight points and three assists in the loss.
The Hurricanes are a formidable foe when McClellan and Rodriguez are both clicking on all cylinders. One of the top backcourt duos in the league, McClellan is averaging 14.5 ppg, while Rodriguez is right behind with 13.4 ppg. Rodriguez also tops the team in assists (4.5 apg) and the conference in steals (45). Fellow guard Manu Lecomte (8.9 ppg) and center Tonye Jekiri (8.1 ppg) provide limited scoring depth for a team that nets 68.7 ppg. The 7-foot Jekiri is tied atop the ACC in rebounding with Wake Forest's Devin Thomas at 10.0 caroms per contest.