UMKC-Louisville Preview


Rick Pitino tweaked his lineup after defending champion Louisville lost for the first time in 22 games.

He wanted to get one of his players going. It worked pretty well for all of them.

The seventh-ranked Cardinals will look to stay on track as they go for their 12th straight home win Wednesday night against scuffling Missouri-Kansas City.

Looking for answers after a 93-84 loss to then-No. 24 North Carolina on Nov. 24, Pitino shook things up Friday against Southern Miss, starting Terry Rozier and Mangok Mathiang while moving Chris Jones and Stephan Van Treese to the bench.

"I don't really care who starts but I was doing it because I wanted to get Terry some confidence," Pitino said of Rozier, who had missed 22 of his first 29 shots this season. "He wasn't playing the way the Terry Rozier I've seen in practice."

Rozier set the tone early with a pair of 3-pointers and went 3 for 5 from long range in the game to finish with a career-best nine points in a 69-38 win.

Jones scored a team-high 18 points for Louisville (6-1), which got contributions from several players. Mathiang pulled down seven rebounds and had a career-best three blocks in his first start, and the Cardinals had five players with at least nine points and nine logging at least 12 minutes.

Jones, the team's second-leading scorer with 15.0 per game, has provided the biggest spark by scoring 38 points and going 8 of 15 from 3-point range over the last two games.

After shooting a combined 13 for 45 from long range with 17 assists in their previous two contests, the Cardinals matched a season high with 12 3-pointers and had 16 assists against the Golden Eagles. Jones hit four of those 3-pointers.

Perhaps the biggest change came on defense. Louisville forced 22 turnovers and limited Southern Miss to a 28.9 shooting percentage after a poor showing against UNC.

The Tar Heels shot 54.2 percent to hand the Cardinals their first loss since a five-overtime defeat at Notre Dame last February. It was the highest field-goal percentage allowed by Louisville since a Final Four loss to Kentucky on March 31, 2012.

"We want to play how we did last season," Pitino said. "Last year, we played about 70 percent man(-to-man), and that is what we did tonight. It confuses people and gets them out of rhythm."

Pitino's squad has won by an average of 24.3 points during its 18-game home winning streak against unranked opponents.

Russ Smith scored 31 points to help Louisville win its only meeting with the Kangaroos, 99-47 on Dec. 8, 2012. Although he was limited to 11 points on Friday, Smith leads the Cardinals with 18.9 per game heading into this matchup.

Louisville figures to get some open looks against UMKC, which has surrendered 89.8 points per game. The Kangaroos allowed a season-worst 65.0 shooting percentage, including 8 of 15 from 3-point range, in an 84-79 loss to visiting Milwaukee on Saturday.

"We played hard, but we have to learn to play with that energy in longer spurts," coach Kareem Richardson, who spent last season as a Louisville assistant, told the team's official website.

The Kangaroos (1-5) rank among the nation's leaders with 10.8 steals per game, but the Cardinals have been protecting the ball well this season, ranking in the top 10 with an average of 9.3 turnovers.

Louisville will have to keep an eye on freshman Martez Harrison, who averages a team-high 17.5 points after finishing with a career-best 28 against the Panthers.

UMKC is 0-18 all-time versus ranked opponents.