Louisville basketball will welcome North Carolina Central into the KFC Yum! Center for a Sunday evening battle.
Cardinal fans are flying high as they’ve watched their Louisville basketball team start their season off in dominant fashion, and they got to see that school in Lexington get upset by Evansville earlier this week. The Cards took care of business on Wednesday evening, as they defeated Indiana State 91-62. Louisville figures to move up to the third spot in the AP Poll on Monday, given that they don’t suffer an upset at the hands of NC Central on Sunday.
NC Central isn’t your typical mid-major team, and they’re very capable of at least making the Cards sweat. The Eagles actually have won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference three years in a row, and they’ve made the NCAA Tournament four times since 2014. They’re also favored to be the conference’s tournament representative again this season, although it is still early.
This is a well-coached basketball team, led by ninth-year coach LeVelle Moton, who also played basketball at NC Central. Louisville can’t make the mistakes that some other top teams have in the past by overlooking a weaker opponent. The matchup against NC Central continues a relatively easy stretch of non-conference opponents leading into the ACC/Big Ten challenge against Michigan in early December.
The Eagles are 1-2 heading into this game, and they’re fresh off a 57-47 loss to Akron, whom the Cards will face next week. They lost their season-opener to Stephen F. Austin by 30 points on the road before beating USC Upstate at home. The Cards play USC Upstate on Wednesday night.
Senior guard Randy Miller Jr. is leading the team in scoring thus far, averaging 15 points per game on 39.3 percent shooting from the field. Senior forward Jibri Blount leads the team in minutes with about 34 per night, and he averages a double-double to go with it. The Eagles are definitely not a terrible mid-major team, but they don’t have the looks of a team that can compete with this Louisville squad.
Chris Mack had to have loved what he saw from the Cards against the Sycamores on Wednesday night. All of his healthy players saw action on the court and 10 players scored. Unsurprisingly, Jordan Nwora led the team in scoring with 21 points. Fresh Kimble finally had his huge breakout game, scoring 13 points on 5 for 6 shooting from the field. Samuell Williamson continued his great start as a Cardinal, scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds. Dwayne Sutton had a great bounceback game as well, recording a double-double. As a team, Louisville shot 58 percent from the field and 52 percent from three, which are both incredible marks.
Even without some of their better players in Malik Williams and David Johnson, the Cards have dominated and showed everyone exactly why they were touted as a preseason national championship contender. They aren’t going to shoot the ball as efficiently as they did against Indiana State often, but this team has tons of promise when it comes to scoring from the perimeter. The defense is slowly improving as well, and the bench is starting to become an effective unit.
As the team moves onto the game against NC Central, they’re going to continue to use these early non-conference games as abilities to learn and get better before they take on some of the better opponents on their schedule. Despite being overmatched, NC Central won’t back down from this challenge and they are going to put their best foot forward as they prepare to challenge the Cards on Sunday. With that in mind, let’s take a look at everything you need to know ahead of the game.
Who: #4 Louisville Cardinals vs. NC Central Eagles
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky
When: 5:00 PM ET, Sunday, November 17th
Tickets: As low as $6 per StubHub.com
Previous Meeting and Series: The two programs have never played head-to-head.
How To Watch: ACC Network.
How To Listen: WHAS 840 AM.
Players To Watch:
Ryan McMahon, Louisville G
After enduring a really bad performance against Bellarmine, many fans were calling for the senior guard to be benched. Chris Mack did not listen to the noise and neither did the Sarasota native, and it appears to be paying off early in the regular season. Averaging 13.7 points, McMahon is the second-leading scorer on the Louisville basketball team, behind Jordan Nwora. He’s been extremely hot from beyond the arc thus far, hitting 11 of his 18 three-point attempts. McMahon will continue to be a guy that Coach Mack relies on when he needs a basket to get his offense in rhythm and he’s going to be extremely fun to watch. He can heat up at any given moment and hit multiple threes in a row, and I firmly believe he’ll do that against NC Central. He’s shown no signs of slowing down, so I’m not going to bet against the sharpshooter yet.
Lamarr Kimble, Louisville G
Against Indiana State, fans finally saw the Fresh Kimble that they’d heard all about when he came to Louisville as a graduate transfer from St. Joe’s. Prior to his 13 point breakout, Kimble only scored 6 points in the first two games of the regular season, connecting on only two of his 11 field goal attempts. He only missed one shot against the Sycamores, and he’s now showcased his ability as not only a playmaker and great passer, but as a capable scorer off the bench. Coach Mack has already stressed how much Kimble means to this year’s team, and he’s going to continue to be important as they get into the tougher part of the schedule. Against NC Central, I expect Kimble to play a lot off the bench as Darius Perry’s backup. I’m particularly excited to see if he can match the scoring performance he put on in Wednesday’s game, but ultimately I hope he continues to showcase his ongoing development into the Cardinals system.
Prediction: Louisville 96, NC Central 51.
- Cards hold the Eagles to less than 20 first-half points.
- Jordan Nwora scores 30 points.
- Ryan McMahon hits five three-pointers.