CRAWFORD | Louisville at Clemson: 5 things to watch, plus TV in - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville at Clemson: 5 things to watch, plus TV info, line, lineups

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford. WDRB photo by Eric Crawford.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The University of Louisville finishes a two-game road swing against the Clemson Tigers at noon Sunday, but the game isn’t at Clemson, because of renovations to Littlejohn Coliseum.

The teams will play in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena at 12:05 p.m. in a game televised by the Raycom Sports Network (Fox Sports South in Louisville, ).

Rick Pitino talked about the improvement in the ACC from top to bottom, and recent upsets by Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech underscore that. Clemson is another team you could lump into the “surprise” category. It is coming off an overtime win at Syracuse, after beating Florida State in Greenville.

The Cardinals enter the game as 7-point favorites.

Some things to watch:

1. SCOUTING THE TIGERS: They’re a team with good size, but little depth. They’ve been shooting the three as well as anyone in the country lately, but may present Louisville with their own offensive opportunities. They’re led in scoring and rebounding by 6-7 junior Jared Blossomgame. In his blog at, the coach broke down the Tigers this way:

“Clemson has an extremely high number of offensive sets,” he said. “Defensively, they change from game-to-game, zone or man. Veteran team that controls tempo. Great shooting team, with 35% of their shots as 3’s. They average 11 offensive rebounds a game, lead the conference in blocked shots, and are third in the conference and 16th in the nation in scoring defense. So much to prepare for in just two days.”

Read Clemson's game notes here.

2. WATCH THE PAINT: The Cardinals have had their way with most opponents they’ve faced when it comes to scoring in the paint. But Clemson blocks a higher percentage of opponent shots than any team Louisville has faced this season, and most likely any opponent that it will face this season. That will mean center Chinanu Onuaku will have to be mindful of the defense, as well as Louisville guards slashing into the paint.

3. OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS: Louisville has been an outstanding rebounding team all season — albeit against lesser competition, though it even outrebounded Kentucky in Rupp Arena. But against N.C. State, it gave up 19 offensive rebounds to the Wolfpack, who rebounded 44.2 percent of their own misses. That helped tarnish an outstanding defensive effort. This game poses similar challenges to the Louisville defense, particularly in the need to defend the three-point line rigorously, while still managing to have guards help chase down rebounds.

4. PASSING GRADE: I’ve been writing about it for several games, but the Cardinals’ assist totals seem to have stalled out with the start of conference play. At times, Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider have seemed to dribble the shot clock down to nothing, then looked to create at the end. Louisville’s offense has looked its best when the ball has been moving. Side-to-side, multiple ball-reversals, entries into the high post. These have gotten tougher as the competition has improved, but they’re still preferable to a point guard dribbling for 15 seconds. Out of one crucial late timeout at N.C. State, with the shot clock already at 15, Lewis dribbled, penetrated, then dribbled back out and handed the ball to Onuaku at the top of the key with three seconds left on the shot clock. The Cards have been shooting the ball well, and as Pitino has said, their offense has carried them. But they need to get back to their passing game if they want that to continue to be the case.

5. THE PRESS: It has not been a major factor for the Cardinals in conference play. They forced N.C. State into only 10 turnovers, and Wake Forest had only nine. Given how much of Louisville’s scoring has come from points off turnovers, that illustrates just how good Louisville’s half-court scoring has been, bolstered by its shooting. The Cards will likely return to the press against a Clemson team that doesn’t boast a lot of depth. But it’s a work in progress.

“We’re not that relentless, pressing team anymore,” Pitino said. “We haven’t even worked on our press because we’ve had to put in so many other things. But we’re going to continue to work on it and get better.”

On his blog, Pitino said the press is just one area that needs to be upgraded.

“Closeouts – challenging shots correctly, boxing out, correctly trapping down, run and jumping on press,” he said. “I would need five pages to state all of them, but that comes with a new team. The great thing is that they are eager to learn and preform. Really love these guys.”

Copyright 2016 Media. All Rights Reserved. Lineup graphic by Kenny Klein, Louisville Sports Information. Louisville's full game notes are available by clicking here.

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