Louisville basketball vs. Western Kentucky game preview

the Louisville Cardinals mascot. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
the Louisville Cardinals mascot. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Louisville basketball team is set to face Western Kentucky in an inter-state matchup.

On Tuesday night, Louisville basketball will have to go toe-to-toe with the best individual player they have faced so far this season in star center Charles Bassey.

The 6’11” 235-pound junior is going to cause the Cardinals fits all night long. But can they weather the storm well enough to put the Toppers away?

Louisville comes into this game with a 3-0 record that included a very close call to Seton Hall in game two of their season.

Western Kentucky enters this game on the heels of a very hard fought loss to a West Virginia team ranked No. 11 in the country.

There are a fair amount of injury ramifications to keep a close eye on as we head closer to game time this evening.

Two players have their health in the balance entering tonight: one for Louisville and one for Western Kentucky.

Samuell Williamson’s status seems to be up in the air after Chris Mack gave a new update on him over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Taveion Hollingsworth, Western Kentucky’s leading scorer this season, has a couple of different injuries hindering him that has caused his status for today’s game to be in question.

If Hollingsworth cannot go, that is a huge blow to the Toppers who are heavily reliant on him and Bassey to produce a huge chunk of the team’s points. They are the only two players averaging double figures through their first three games.

With all of this being said, let’s preview Louisville and Western Kentucky.

Who: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-1) at Louisville Cardinals (3-0)

Where: KFC Yum! Center; Louisville, Kentucky

When: Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m. Eastern time

Spread: Louisville -4

TV: ACC Network

Projected starting lineups (via gocards.com)

Louisville (3-0)

F 11 Quinn Slazinski 6-8 215 So. Houston, Texas

F 14 Dre Davis 6-5 220 Fr. Indianapolis, Ind. C

24 Jae’Lyn Withers 6-8 215 R-Fr. Charlotte, N.C.

G 1 Carlik Jones 6-2 185 Gr. Cincinnati, Ohio

G 13 David Johnson 6-5 210 So. Louisville, Ky.

Western Kentucky (2-1)

F 22 Carson Williams 6-5 240 R-Sr. Owenton, Ky.

F 23 Charles Bassey 6-11 235 Jr. Lagos, Nigeria

G 4 Josh Anderson 6-6 190 Sr. Baton Rouge, La.

G 11 Taveion Hollingsworth 6-2 164 Sr. Lexington, Ky.

G 21 Kenny Cooper 6-0 190 R-Sr. Nashville, Tenn

Important links

Players to watch for Western Kentucky

G Taveion Hollingsworth – Louisville fans are probably very familiar with the Lexington, Kentucky native. Last year against the Cardinals, Hollingsworth put up 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting. He is the Toppers’ best scorer and if he does play, he will be a prime candidate to lead the team in scoring again this evening. He’s averaging 19 points per game on the year so far.

C Charles Bassey – Bassey is the man in charge for Western Kentucky. This team flows through him and he is likely to make a huge impact in this game against an undersized Louisville team. He’s averaging a cool 15.7 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game through three games this season. If the Cardinals want to win, containing him on the glass will be of utmost importance.

F Carson Williams – At just 6’5″, Williams plays much bigger than his size indicates. He’s a load at 240-pounds. He’s a fantastic rebounder for his size and Louisville is going to have to keep him off the glass in addition to Bassey.

Players to watch for Louisville

C Jae’Lyn Withers – For Withers, he is riding the high of his breakout performance against Prairie View A&M on Sunday. However, the way he plays in this game will be the biggest sign of all to what we may expect out of him this season. He is undersized going against Bassey, Withers is best as an offensive threat, but he will be facing one of the best shot-blockers in the country today. How will he step up against the best of the best?

G David Johnson – Another player that played his best game of the season in his last game, Johnson can build upon his performance on Sunday where he showed his passing vision and court awareness. If Johnson can take another step up in this game, he could easily fill up the stat sheet and take over.

F Quinn Slazinski – Slazinski started Sunday’s game and went 1-for-6 from the field against Prairie View A&M. Right now, Chris Mack is counting on him to largely take over the duties of being a premier spot-up shooter on this team. In 26 minutes, one field goal made is not going to get it done against better teams. If Louisville is to win, Slazinski is going to have to provide the ability to stretch the floor and prove he is dangerous from deep if left open.

Final thoughts

This is a tough game for Louisville and a very tough matchup against a very solid guard-big tandem in Hollingsworth and Bassey.

Western Kentucky is not a great defensive team despite Bassey being one of the best shot blockers in the country. The injury statuses of the players at tip-off are going to be key. Even if Hollingsworth does play, he’s surely going to be limited in some capacity.

The same goes for Sam Williamson and his injured toe. I would not expect him to play in this game but we will see what happens as game time approaches.

Western Kentucky lacks fundamental depth at the forward position so getting Bassey and Williams into foul trouble with the minutes they play will be very important.

Score prediction

Louisville 77, Western Kentucky 72

This is one I have gone back and forth with. It’s important not to overly value Hollingsworth and Bassey no matter how good they may be as players. They are just two of the ingredients in the grand scheme of what the Toppers are trying to accomplish.

Other than Bassey, Western Kentucky lacks size as a whole on the team. If Louisville rebounds as a complete unit, it’s easy to envision a world where the Cardinals actually out-rebound the Toppers in this game.

However, if Bassey leads the charge in getting some interior Louisville players into foul trouble, that could be an issue with the lack of depth due to injury that the Cardinals have at the moment.

Expect a heavy dose of Carlik Jones and David Johnson tonight and Louisville outlasts Western Kentucky with Hollingsworth banged up.