Hartford-Louisville Preview

The Associated Press

Judging by the way it's played so far, Louisville looks like it won't have much trouble adding to its school-record win streak in the near future.

The third-ranked Cardinals will seek a 20th consecutive victory as it faces another unheralded opponent, Hartford, on Tuesday night as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.

Louisville (3-0) has beaten its initial opponents by an average of 31.7 points and shot a season-high 59.0 percent in a 99-54 rout of Cornell on Friday. The Cardinals also witnessed the season debut of junior guard Kevin Ware, who suffered a gruesome leg injury during the school's run to last season's NCAA title.

Ware finished with five points and two rebounds in 13 minutes, and Wayne Blackshear led the way with a career-best 20 points and made four 3-pointers.

"When you're winning like that, everything feels great. To be a part of (the win steak) is really unique. I'm really fortunate to be on a team of this caliber," guard Russ Smith said.

The Cardinals also got significant contributions from a pair of players who recently returned.

Chane Behanan had 13 points and 12 rebounds in his second game back from a team suspension, and NCAA tournament MVP Luke Hancock scored 12 points in his second game back from an Achilles injury.

Now at full health, Louisville will try to keep rolling against Hartford. The Hawks have never beaten a ranked opponent and are facing one for the first time since a 104-61 loss at then-No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 29, 2009.

Hartford (2-2) started this season with back-to-back losses but got back to .500 with wins over Fairfield and Fairleigh Dickinson this past week. Leading scorer Mark Nwakamma, a junior forward averaging 18.8 points on 54.2 percent shooting, had his lowest output of the season (14 points) in a 74-60 victory over FDU on Friday.

Nwakamma, a preseason first-team all-America East honoree, is the Hawks' only player averaging in double figures. Hartford is barely outpacing its opponents so far, averaging 66.3 points and allowing 65.0 per game.

Louisville blew out the Hawks 104-69 in the only previous meeting between the schools on Nov. 17, 2007.

The Cardinals will continue play in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off on Saturday in Uncasville, Conn., against Fairfield. They might finally get their first matchup with a ranked team the next night if No. 24 North Carolina advances to the championship game.

Louisville likely won't have the chance to play another ranked team until visiting archrival and No. 4 Kentucky on Dec. 28.