Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - The 12th-ranked Louisville Cardinals will try to bounce back from two consecutive losses, but they'll have to go through the Miami-Florida Hurricanes in an Atlantic Coast Conference clash at the KFC YUM! Center to do so.
Louisville has fallen in two straight games for the first time all season long. The Cardinals dropped a 74-65 defeat to NC State last Saturday, then followed that up with a 69-59 defeat at the hands of Syracuse in New York. Louisville now sports an 8-5 mark in ACC play, but owns a 13-3 record on its home court.
Miami has notched some big wins this season, and taking down Louisville at home would qualify as yet another. The Hurricanes have won two in a row over Boston College (89-86 in double-overtime) and Virginia Tech (76-52) to improve to 7-6 against league foes. Miami has done well on the road this season, earning a 5-3 mark away from home.
This will be the 11th meeting all-time between Miami and Louisville. The Cardinals have dominated in the 10 previous matchups, owning an 8-2 advantage over the Hurricanes. The two sides clashed in Miami earlier this season, with the Cardinals escaping Coral Gables with a 63-55 victory.
Miami was able to toss aside Virginia Tech on Wednesday rather easily. The Hurricanes connected on 51 percent of their shots from the field, and held the visiting Hokies to 34.8 percent shooting in the contest en route to the win. Miami only led by three points at the break, but exploded in the second half behind 57.7 percent shooting. Sheldon McClellan led the charge for the 'Canes with 21 points, hitting on 7-of-10 from the field. Tonye Jekiri tallied a double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds, and Angel Rodriguez netted 11 points with four assists.
McClellan tops the Hurricanes this season in scoring, netting 14.8 ppg on an impressive 51.8 percent shooting from the floor. He's followed in the category by Rodriguez (12.6 ppg), who is the only other Miami player to average a double-digit scoring figure for the team. Rodriguez serves a dual purpose as the team's floor general, having dished out 113 assists so far with a team- best 51 steals. Jekiri is the only player in the entire ACC this season to average a double-digit mark in rebounding, pulling down 10.4 boards per outing heading into the weekend. He's also the next closest to a double-figure point total at 8.5 ppg. The Hurricanes as a unit are netting 68.8 ppg, and are allowing opponents to score 62.9 ppg on 42.2 percent shooting.
Syracuse used its home crowd at the Carrier Dome to the fullest extent on Wednesday, as the Orange knocked down 46.8 percent of their shots from the floor, which included a 57.9 percent mark in the second half. Louisville led Syracuse at halftime by four, 32-28, but could only hit on 32.1 percent of its attempts in the second period, allowing the Orange to make the comeback. Terry Rozier scored 17 points to lead the way for the Cards, while Montrezl Harrell added 15 points with nine boards. Quentin Snider contributed 13 points, and Chinanu Onuaku narrowly missed a double-double with eight points and 11 rebounds. The Cardinals were without guard Chris Jones, who is suspended from the team.
Jones won't be participating in this weekend's contest against the Hurricanes either, which is a big loss for Louisville considering he is averaging 13.6 ppg. It's not up to Rozier's level, though, as the other guard leads the Cardinals in the scoring department with 18.0 ppg (third in the ACC). Harrell is second with 15.4 ppg, adding in a team-best 9.3 rpg (fourth in the league), and Wayne Blackshear rounds out the team's double-digit scorers with 10.5 ppg. Jones will also be missed on the defensive end, as the guard tops the conference with 2.0 steals per outing. Louisville will try and rely on its solid offensive effort (71.1 ppg) and stifling defense (59.4 ppg allowed to opponents) to shut down Miami.