CRAWFORD | Jones returns as Cards double down on defense
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Chris Jones returned to practice for the No. 6-ranked University of Louisville basketball team in the first of Monday's double-sessions and will play for the Cardinals when they face Missouri State in the KFC Yum! Center at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
Jones missed U of L's game against Western Kentucky on Saturday with a sprained wrist, but Pitino said he has returned to practice and "looks good." Jones is the team's No. 2 scorer at 14.9 points per game and has been their second-most accurate three-point shooter at 41.7 percent (15 of 36).
The Cards used Russ Smith and freshman Terry Rozier at point guard in Jones' absence, and walk-on Tim Henderson stepped in with four three-pointers and 12 points for the Cards in a 79-63 win.
"With those three (including Jones) and Tim Henderson, the guard rotation is set," Pitino said.
Missouri State's lone loss in nine games came against Virginia (83-63) in the Corpus Christi Classic.
Tuesday night's game is U of L's last home game for 23 days -- its longest stretch without a home game since 1980-81.
The Cardinals lead the nation in turnover margin at plus-10.1 per game and rank fifth in the nation with 10.3 steals per game. They shot 50.8 percent against WKU, the fifth time they've shot 50 percent or better.
Missouri State is averaging 77.1 points per game and has good-sized guards, both 6-3. The team is shooting nearly 37 percent from three-point range.
Pitino said the Cards' double-sessions on Monday were geared toward defense.
"As the competition gets better, we've got to communicate better defensively, do everything a little better," he said.
Tuesday's game will feature a toy collection at the KFC Yum! Center. Fans may donate new toys at various Kyle's Corner for Kids locations throughout the arena. The community charity was founded in 2011 by former Cardinal Kyle Kuric. Toys collected Monday will be given to Kosair Children's Hospital. Toys for any age or gender will be accepted.
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