Louisville welcomes Murray State

#11 Louisville (8-1) welcomes former assistant Mick Cronin and the Murray State Racers (10-1) to Freedom Hall this afternoon.

GAME FACTS
Date Saturday, January 3, 2004
Time/Location 2:08 p.m./ Freedom Hall (18,865)
Television WDRB-TV
Radio WHAS (840 AM)
Series History Louisville leads 21-7
U of L Ranking 11th AP/ 14th USA Today/Coaches
Satellite Coord. SBS 6, Transp 6 (KU Band)
Officials Larry Ware, Steven Pyatt, Gene Menes

Former University of Louisville assistant Mick Cronin will bring his Murray State Racers into Freedom Hall this afternoon for what promises to be an uptempo showcase.

Cronin, off to an impressive 10-1 start in his first year as a head coach, has already beaten C-USA foes Southern Miss and TCU and his only defeat came at the hands of Jamie Dixon's Pittsburgh Panthers on the road. He'll bring a confident team to Louisville today that expects to play well against the Cards.

"We're going to approach it like we don't have anything to lose," Cronin said. "At the same time, we're going in there expecting to play well. We've developed a toughness about us and a pride in our program, and that's what I'm looking for our guys to go showcase on Saturday. Obviously, it's a game you could go play extremely well and play with great toughness and still get beat. Not that I would be happy with that, but I certainly expect us to go in there and play hard and play tough."

Murray is led by veterans Cuthbert Victor, Adam Chiles and junior college transfer Kelvin Brown. Victor, who dropped several pounds during the offseason and is in the best shape of his playing career, leads the Racers in both scoring and rebounding and provides them an inside presence. Brown, who originally signed with South Florida, has been a solid addition up front for the Racers this season and is currently the teams second leading scorer. Chiles of course transferred from Kentucky and starts in the backcourt along with former Scott County standound and Vanderbilt transfer Rick Jones.

The Racers like to play an uptempo style and enter the contest averaging 81.3 points per game. They've outrebounded their oppenents consistently this season and shoot nearly 50 percent from the floor. They've also shown they can force turnovers (201) and knock down the three (.336).

"As the season has gone on, our assist totals have gone down and that concerns me," Cronin said. We have to pass the basketball effectively and get back to passing it the way we were early in the season. The key to making shots is taking easy ones."

Meanwhile, Louisville is coming off an impressive rout of Toledo earlier this week. When most would have expected some sort of letdown against the Rockets following the win at Kentucky, Louisville simply came out and took care of business from the beginning, using a stingy, hard nosed defense for a 92-56 win.

"They are really fun to watch," Pitino said. "They get after you and pressure you. They pass and shoot well. They rebound and have a good bench."

Louisville played the second half against Toledo without forward Francisco Garcia, who hyper extended his knee. School officials indicated that Garcia practiced leading up to the game and Pitino proclaimed him ready for action against Murray.

"He's fine," Pitino said.

Probable Starting Lineups

Louisville (8-1) Ht Wt Yr PPG RPG Hometown
F Luke Whitehead 6-6 220 Sr 14.9 9.8 San Francisco
F Francisco Garcia 6-7 185 So 16.1 4.7 Bronx, NY
C Kendall Dartez 6-10 225 Sr 4.7 4.2 Houston, TX
G Taquan Dean 6-3 185 So 12.9 4.2 Neptune, NJ
G Larry O'Bannon 6-4 195 Jr 8.1 2.8 Louisville

Reserves: 6'9 Nouha Diakite 2.0, 2.3, 6'9 Otis George  5.0, 3.4, 6'3 Alhaji Mohammad 5.1, 1.4, 6'7 Nate Daniels 7.2, 2.0, 6'3 Brandon Jenkins 2.0, 1.7

Murray State (10-1) Ht Wt Yr PPG RPG Hometown
F Cuthbert Victor 6-5 220 Sr 17.8 11.5 St. Croix
F Antoine Whelchel 6-5 249 Sr 9.6 6.4 Gainesville, FL
C Kelvin Brown 6-7 220 Jr. 13.4 4.1 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
G Adam Chiles 6-1 190 Jr. 10.4 3.3 Louisville
G Rick Jones 6-1 184 Sr 8.9 1.1 Georgetown, KY

Reserves:  6'6 Chris Shumate, 7'0 Andi Hornung, 5'11 Kevin Paschel, 6'10 Pearson Griffith

Notes

  • Louisville has won 22 straight non-conference games in Freedom Hall.
  • Against former assistants, Rick Pitino is now 15-1 all time.
  • Louisville has produced 19 runs of 8-0 or better, including three of 13-0 or more.
  • Louisville is 5th in the Sagarin Ratings and 8th in the RPI.
  • Louisville has outrebounded its last two opponents by an 11.5 margin after being outrebounded by -0.9 through the first seven games of the season.
  • Murray State has quite a Louisville connection. Besides Cronin, four Racer players call Louisville home, Chris Shumate (Male), Kevin Paschel (PRP), Adam Chiles (Ballard), Nathan Akin (Christian Academy). Also, Murray assistant Matt Grady served as a graduate assistant last season at U of L.
  • Racer assistant coach Ryan Wolf was Nouha Diakite's head coach at Barton County (KS) the past two seasons.

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