Cards could be Myles-less against Vols

No. 14 Louisville (15-3, 4-1) could be without starting center Ellis Myles, who fractured his left thumb Wednesday against East Carolina, this afternoon when they take on Tennessee (10-7, 3-2) at Freedom Hall in a key non-conference matchup.

Ellis Myles will likely be missing from Louisville's lineup when the 14th-ranked Cardinals face Tennessee at Freedom Hall on Saturday in their final regular season non-conference game.

Ranked second in Conference USA with 9.4 rebounds and averaging 10.7 points per game, Myles suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb in the first half of a 92-41 home win over East Carolina on Wednesday. The 6-foot-7 senior did return, however, finishing with five points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes for the Cardinals (15-3).

Myles, who is receiving treatment, is doubtful for Saturday.

``Once the pain subsides, we expect Ellis to be able to play with a splint,'' Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said. ``After all, one of Louisville's all-time great players -- Wiley Brown -- won a national championship playing without a thumb, so we expect Ellis to play with a splinted thumb. We need his low-post presence and toughness on the court.''

Myles missed the Cardinals' game against visiting IUPUI with tightness in the hamstring of his right leg on Dec. 21. Louisville won without him, 80-60.

All five Louisville starters are averaging double figures in scoring with junior Francisco Garcia leading the way with 16.6 points per game.

Garcia had just nine points against the Pirates on Wednesday, but sophomore reserve Brandon Jenkins picked up the slack with 14 points. Senior George Otis also came off the bench with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Louisville, which won its fourth in a row and ninth in 10 games.

The Cardinals, who came in off a 69-66 victory at then-No. 18 Cincinnati last Saturday, held the Pirates to 26 percent shooting while outrebounding them 60-41. The 60 boards were a season high, topping the previous mark of 58 against North Carolina A&T on Dec. 14.

``It's a tribute to our guys. No mental or physical letdown at all,'' Pitino said.

Tennessee (10-7) enters off an 83-76 overtime win at Florida on Wednesday.

Senior Scooter McFadgon, who averages a team-high 16.3 points for the Vols, scored 23, including the final five of the extra period.

Freshman Chris Lofton had 22 points and senior Brandon Crump added 18 for the Vols, who have alternated wins and losses in their last five games.

Tennessee averages 71.6 points per game, 12.2 fewer than Louisville.

The Vols are 5-4 all-time at Louisville, but trail the overall series 10-7. The Cardinals have won 10 of the last 11 meetings, including a 65-62 road victory last Jan. 25.

Pitino has been victorious against the Vols the last 12 times he has faced them. He is 17-3 all-time against Tennessee, with most of the success coming when he coached Kentucky from 1989-97.

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