Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - The Savannah State Tigers go in search of their third straight win, but picking it up won't be easy as they pay a visit to the Louisville Cardinals on Monday night as part of the Global Sports Showcase.
Savannah State opened the season with a pair of double-digit losses to Eastern Kentucky (76-53) and Marshall (66-47), but has since won back-to-back games against Winthrop (59-58) and Cleveland State (87-83 OT). The Tigers have several tough games still to come, as they will battle Indiana, Miami, Kansas State and LSU before opening Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play at North Carolina A&T on Jan. 10, 2015.
Louisville has posted three double-digit wins to open the season, as Rick Pitino's club has topped Minnesota (81-68), Jacksonville State (88-39) and Marshall (85-67), the last two as part of this event. Upcoming games against Ohio State, Indiana and top-ranked Kentucky should have the team primed for its first foray as a member of the ACC, which it will begin at Wake Forest on Jan. 4, 2015.
This is only the second meeting between these two teams, with the Cardinals easily winning the first at home back in 2006, 71-45.
While they currently sit at .500 on the season, the Tigers lack ferociousness on offense, as they boast only two double-digit scorers and average a mere 61.5 ppg. Javaris Jenkins has shot the ball well (.500), particularly from beyond the arc (8-of-11), but he is netting only 12.8 ppg. He also heads the team's rebounding effort with 6.0 rpg, and he receives moderate assistance from Saadiq Muhammad, a 60 percent shooter who averages 10 points and 5.8 caroms per contest. Terrell Hall and Alante Fenner have combined for 29 assists. Defensively, Savannah State is permitting 70.8 ppg, but its foes are converting only 28.2 percent of their 3-point tries.
Jenkins went off in the recent overtime win at home against Cleveland State, as he went 6-of-7 from distance, 7-of-8 at the foul line, in netting 33 points. Fenner came off the bench to tack on 16, while Khalen Pinkett added 10 and Hall handed out 10 assists. The Tigers shot 52.2 percent from the field, knocking down 8-of-13 3-point tries along the way. Both teams were rather careless with the basketball, with CSU turning it over 20 times and SSU 21 times.
All five starters scored in double figures for Louisville in its recent win over Marshall, led by 18 points from Chris Terry. Terry Rozier added 17 points, Wayne Blackshear had 16, Montrezl Harrell 12 and Chinanu Onuaku 10 while also grabbing 11 rebounds for the Cardinals, who shot just 38.6 percent from the floor, missing 19 of their 22 long-range launches in the process. The Thundering Herd were successful on only 36.5 percent of their total shots, including 29.2 percent from downtown, and the most telling stat in the game was the one that showed the visitors committing three times as many turnovers as the hosts (21-7). Also playing a significant role was UofL's 28-14 edge in points from the foul line.
There was a ton of hype surrounding Harrell in the preseason, and he has been rock solid in averaging 19 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Thankfully, he is shooting 61.3 percent from the floor, or else the team's overall field goal percentage (.438) would be even worse. Rozier (16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Jones (13.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Blackshear (11.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) round out the unit's double- digit scorers. Overall, Louisville is putting up 84.7 ppg while allowing only 58.0 ppg.