MU vs Louisville Preview

For the first time this season, the Golden Eagles will meet Conference USA rival No. 5 Louisville at Freedom Hall in Louisville, KY this Saturday. The Cardinal's only have two returning starters but have had an amazing season thus far. U of L is one of the six teams in the nation with one loss on the season with a record of 16-1.

The Cardinals only loss came early in the season against Iowa, 70-69 in overtime on Nov.29. Since then, U of L has had 14 consecutive victories.  Their triumphs during the season include wins over No.1 Kentucky 65-56 on Dec. 27.  The team also upset No.1 Florida 73-65 on Dec. 13.
 On the season, Marquette is 3-3 in Conference USA and are 12-5 overall. The Golden Eagles have defeated opponents such as No.25 Notre Dame 71-58 on Dec. 1st and St. John's on Nov. 13th at the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament in New York City at Madison Square Garden 52-45.
The match will we see both of the top two candidates for Conference USA Player of the Year and two first team all-conference players in junior Travis Diener of Marquette and sophomore Francisco Garcia from Louisville. Diener leads the Golden Eagles with 17.0 points and 6.3 assists per game.  Garcia leads his team with 15.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Garcia was named C-USA's Sixth Man last season while Diener was named to Conference USA's all-third team. Diener is also considered one of the top 30 players nominated for the John Wooden award.  
The game will see good match ups against freshman Dameon Mason and Garcia at the off guard and swingman position as well as when Merritt, who averages 6.7 rebounds per game against senior Luke Whitehead who averages 8.4 rebounds per game. Louisville leads the series with a 31-21 record over Marquette but the Golden Eagles have won the last four of five contests.  The two teams battled of two of last season's greatest matches. The first meet between the two was played in Milwaukee where the game came down to the wire.  With six seconds remaining senior Reece Gaines made a three pointer from 25 feet to give the No.2 Cardinal's the win 73-70. On February 27, just two weeks after the first meet, Marquette performed miraculous comeback being down as much as 19 points going into the second half.  The attack was led by none other than Dwyane Wade.  Wade scored 28 points and Scott Merritt added 18 to lead No. 10 Marquette over No. 11 Louisville 78-73. Diener added 16 points and four assists for Marquette. Just a freshman, Garcia scored 24 for Louisville while junior Ellis Myles had 12 points and 11 rebounds before he left the game with a knee injury with 1:15 left.

Soon to be great
With a win over Louisville, Coach Tom Crean will need only four more games to reach 100 career wins.  If he passes this milestone he will become the program's fifth coach to do so and the second-fastest in five seasons tying Mike Deane (1994-1999) with a record of 100-55. Also, Crean is 10-12 in his career against ranked opponents, including 3-9 against the Top Ten. 


Beyond the Arc
Travis Diener and Steve Novak have counted for 90 of the team's 117 three point field goals this season.  Diener is shooting 46 percent from downtown while Novak is shooting 41.5 percent. Diener needs six more three-pointers to pass Tony Smith as the program's sixth all-time. Diener ranks in the top 30 three point shooters in the country while Novak is ranked 45th.


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