Blues City hasn't been kind to the Cardinals this season. The AAC tourney will be Louisville's second trip to Beale Street this month, having suffered a 72-66 defeat to Memphis on March 1. The six-point loss meant a regular season sweep for the Tigers, a long-time rival. However, it'll take a couple of victories by both to reach the ACC tournament finals for the two teams to meet for a third time.
The return to southwest Tennessee is also another opportunity for Memphis native Chris Jones to play in front of family and friends. The 5-foot-10 point guard has struggled against his hometown, scoring just 5 points on 2-of-19 shooting in the two meetings.
"I'm grateful for another chance," said Jones, who scored 31 points and connected on 6-of-11 three-point attempts in the season's final two games. "I didn't play great my last time [in Memphis], so hopefully I'll play like I have been the last two games. I'm trying to show everybody that I'm back and fully ready to win a national championship."
It will also be Jones' first trip home since his step-brother Demetrius Ray, whom Jones calls his best friend, was killed by gunshot outside his home while the Cardinals and Tigers were playing only miles away. Jones has dedicated the season in his honor.
"I think it makes me more hungrier than I was before," he said of the personal loss. "I promised myself that I'd dedicate this season to him and that's what I'm going to do. I think that is why my motor is so high right now, because that's what he would have wanted from me and that's what coach wants for me."
Since dropping the game at Memphis, the Cardinals have been playing great ball, defeating a pair of Top 25 teams in SMU and Connecticut. The recent play has even drawn comparisons to the 2013 National Champions.
"I guess it is that time when everybody is clicking and this is the best time to do that," Jones told Cardinal Authority. "I'm happy that we are all on the same page and people are saying that we are starting to look similar to the team last year. That's a great compliment. Hopefully we won't look totally like them until we cut down the nets on the big stage."