CRAWFORD | Scouting report: Louisville at Syracuse
WDRB's Eric Crawford previews Louisville's game at Syracuse Monday night.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's another Saturday-Monday turnaround for the University of Louisville basketball team, which will look to build on the momentum of its strong finish against Miami over the weekend.
The victory moved the Cards to 20-5 on the season -- the sixth time in the past seven seasons that they've won at least 20 of their first 25 -- and has them at No. 4 in the RPI and No. 5 Ken Pomeroy's efficiency ratings heading into Monday night's game at Syracuse.
Louisville has generally played well in the Carrier Dome, winning three of its past five games there.
In its first game with point guard Quentin Snider back in the lineup, the Cards started slowly against Miami Saturday, but seemed to find a rhythm offensively as the game went along.
The Cardinals, who have been favored at tipoff in all but five games this season, are 3 1/2-point favorites at Syracuse. It'll be their second straight Big Monday appearance on ESPN. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Some things to watch:
1). LOUISVILLE VS. THE ORANGE ZONE. When you talk about Jim Boeheim and Syracuse, you have to talk about the 2-3 zone. There have been some offensively challenged Louisville teams that have struggled with it. This should not be one of them.
The Cardinals looked out of sync in attacking Miami's 2-3 zone Saturday afternoon in the KFC Yum! Center, but that inefficiency hasn't been the norm this season. While they've faced zone defenses on just 14 percent of their possessions this season, they were -- until Saturday's game against Miami -- the nation's No. 1 half-court offensive efficiency team against zone defense. As it is, they come into Monday's game No. 2, at 1.187 points per possession.
Louisville has scored on 50 percent of its possessions against zone defenses this season, one of only two teams in NCAA Division I to score at 50 percent or higher. Indiana, which ranks No. 1 in the half-court against zones, is the other.
For Louisville against the Syracuse zone, as with most teams, the three pointer is a key. No team in the Power 5 (or Big East) gives up a higher percentage of its field goals from three-point range than Syracuse (43.5 percent).
But that's not the only offensive opportunity for the Cardinals.
2). REBOUND RULES. Syracuse has been one of the poorer rebounding teams in the ACC, and is just coming off a loss at Pittsburgh in which it was outrebounded 41-25. That's the same Pittsburgh team, in the same venue, where Louisville outrebounded the Panthers 48-26.
Louisville has been outrebounded only four times all season, and ranks 15th in the nation in offensive rebound percentage, grabbing 36.6 percent of its own missed shots. Syracuse allows opponents to rebound 34.5 percent of their misses, worst in the Power 5 and 337th out of 351 Division I programs.
3). STOPPING THE THREE. So where is Syracuse dangerous? It's dangerous on offense, and from beyond the arc in particular when it's on, and when it's at home, where the Orange shoot 41.4 percent from three-point range and make 9.7 three-pointers per game.
But if you catch them on the wrong night, it can be much worse. They've made 13 threes or more in seven games, the last a 100-93 win at N.C. State when they went 15 of 26 from beyond the arc.
Louisville has been good defensively against the three-pointer this season, but will face a challenge because Syracuse has tall players who can shoot it. Ray Spalding and Jaylen Johnson will be under pressure to defend the three, and it'll be important for V.J. King, also, if he wants to be on the court.
4). ORANGE TO WATCH. Syracuse is led by Andrew White III, a 6-6 guard who began his college career at Kansas before transferring to Nebraska. He came to Syracuse as a graduate transfer, and leads the team in three-pointers with 85. He's the first Syracuse player in a decade to score 20 points or better in six straight games.
Tyler Lydon, a 6-9 forward, has played every minute of Syracuse's past seven games. He's the team's best rebounder at 7.8 per game and adds 13.8 points per game. He can step out and shoot the three, and hits 43 percent of his shots beyond the arc.
Graduate transfer guard John Gillon scored 43 points and tied a Syracuse record with nine threes in the win at N.C. State. He averages 10.7 points and a team-best 5.4 assists per game. Tyus Battle, a 6-6 freshman guard, averages 10 per game and is coming off a career-high 23 in a win at Virginia two games ago.
5). A LOUISVILLE LOOK. In winning eight of its past 10 games, Louisville averaged 79.5 points, shot 47.3 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from the three-point line (79-of-190), limited its opponents to 40.9 percent accuracy from the field and allowed an average of 64.7 points.
Until it shot just 37 percent at Virginia two games ago, Louisville had shot 50 percent or better from the field in four of its previous five games.
Over the last 12 games, Donovan Mitchell has averaged 19.1 points and shot 42 percent from three-point range.
Not counting the game they missed at Virginia on Feb. 6 for breaking curfew, Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang have been two of the Cardinals' most consistent players recently. Adel has scored in double figures in six straight, including a career-high 19 points at Boston College. He has averaged 14.5 points in that span while shooting 50 percent from the field (31-of-62). Mathiang has averaged 11.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and shot 63.8 percent from the field over his last six games.
The Cardinals have shot 80 percent from the free-throw line over their past four games.
6). IN MEMORIAM. Syracuse is mourning the death of Fab Melo, who died in his native Brazil on Saturday at age 26. Melo was playing professionally in Brazil. Boeheim told reporters that Melo died in his sleep, but that a cause of death is not yet known.
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