Louisville vs. Tennessee: Game Preview

#9 Louisville (13-1, 5-0) will face Tennessee (9-5, 2-1)tomorrow evening in Knoxville. The game will tip-off at 5:00 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

GAME FACTS Date: Saturday, January 25, 2003
Time: 5:00 PM
Site: Thompson Bowling Arena, Knoxville, Tennessee
Television: ESPN 2
Radio: WHAS (840 AM) - (Internet game broadcast)
Series History:  Louisville Leads 8-7 ( at home 4-5,  at Tennessee 3-1,  Neutral 1-0)
Last Meeting:  Louisville won 73-72, Dec. 20, 2001, at Freedom Hall.
National Rankings:  UT unranked AP, unranked USA Today/ESPN; Louisville is 9th AP, 14th USA Today/ESPN
Significant injuries - Tennessee - None Louisville - None

#9 Louisville heads to Knoxville to take on Vols
The #9 Louisville Cardinals enter the game against Tennessee on an 12 game winning streak that has included key wins against #8 Kentucky at home, and Ohio State and Seton Hall on the road.  Off to their best start since the 1996-97 season, the Cards are 5-0 in C-USA for the first time ever and are doing it with defense.  The Cardinals have held each of its last 10 opponents under 40% shooting from the field and are winning by an average of over 20 points per game for the season.  In order to win on the road tomorrow, the Cards will need another stellar effort on the defensive end against the Vols balanced attack, led by SEC scoring leader, Ron Slay (21.6).

The Cards have their work cut out for them tomorrow at Tennessee as the Volunteers have defeated 46 of the last 47 non-conference opponents who have visited Thompson-Boling Arena.  In order to extend the nation's second longest winning streak the Cards interior players will have to keep the physical Vols, who are outrebounding their opponents by 7 per game, off the glass.  Ellis Myles and Kendall Dartez will also have to keep Ron Slay, the SEC's leading scorer under wraps and force someone else from Tennessee to pick up the scoring slack.  

The Vols backcourt of C.J Watson, a 6'2 freshman point guard who is second in the SEC in assists (5.5 apg) and John Higgins, who is shooting 50% (35-69) from behind the 3 point line will pose a formidable challenge to the Cards back court.  The Cards will need to apply constant pressure to the young Watson, a former Parade All-America, and keep the quick point guard out of lane where he causes most of his damage.  UofL's perimeter players will also have to extend its defense on Higgins as he's a threat to bury the three from anywhere on the perimeter.  If Higgins gets hot watch out, the Vols inside tandem of Slay and 6'10 Brandon Crump could have a field day if Higgins can open some room for them in the paint.

At the other end of the floor, the Cards have definite advantages in depth and offensive punch.  Tennessee's back court players will be hard pressed to stop the versatile, 6'6 Gaines and Marvin Stone will provide a stern test for sophomore center Brandon Crump of Tennessee.  The Cards leading shooters, Taquan Dean, Francisco Garcia, Eric Brown and Gaines could have a field from behind the line as the Vols perimeter defense is allowing its opponents to make 35.1% of their three point shots on the season, not a good percentage when facing the Cards excellent shooters.  

It will also be important for the Cards to establish tempo early and keep the UT crowd quite and in its seats.  On the season the Vols are averaging 16.2 turnovers per game, so look for the Cards to apply heavy, full court pressure from the start in an attempt to rattle UT's Watson and establish a favorable pace for the game.   

In the end, look for the Cards to shoot the ball well from the perimeter and for Myles, Dartez and Stone to control the paint against Tennessee.  The Cards depth and relentless pressure defense will be too much for theseVols to overcome and the Cards will bring home an 85-71 victory!

Louisville has held its last 10 opponents to under 40% shooting from the floor
Louisville is fifth in the nation in scoring at 84.1 points per game
Louisville is sixth in the nation in assists at 18.3 per game

Tennessee leads the SEC in free throw shooting at 74.6%
Tennessee is 13th in the nation in rebounding margin at 7.1 per game
Tennessee forward Ron Slay leads the SEC in scoring at 21.6 ppg.
Tennessee has won 46 of its last 47 home games against non-conference opponents

Be sure to check out the Louisville site at http://louisville.theinsiders.com

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