Dec. 22, 2011
Louisville Game Notes | Western Kentucky Game Notes
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In the 10th annual Billy Minardi Classic, the University of Louisville men's basketball team will play host to in-state rival, Western Kentucky, on Friday, Dec. 23, at the KFC Yum! Center. The contest will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 7:02 p.m., with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (color) calling the action.
The classic originated in 2002 to honor the memory of Billy Minardi, brother-in-law of head coach Rick Pitino, who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The Cardinals won the 2002 contest and are 12-1 all-time in the classic, including a win over No. 1 Florida in 2003.
Heading into the game, Louisville is 11-0 overall after a strong victory over the College of Charleston and off to its best start in 37 years, since the 1974-75 team began the season 13-0. With the victory, Louisville extended its home-winning streak to 19 games; it's tied for the ninth-best active home streak in Division I.
Kyle Kuric led the fourth-ranked Cardinals with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the 69-62 victory over the Cougars on Dec. 20. He tallied eight rebounds and was one of five Cardinal players to reach double figures in scoring. Gorgui Dieng continued his double-double streak, recording his fourth straight, the sixth of his career, with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Senegal native also swatted five shots. The Cardinals made the most of their transition and second-chance opportunities, recording 17 points on putbacks and 10 on the fastbreak. Louisville also out-rebounded the College of Charleston, 41-34. Antwaine Wiggins led the Cougars with 23 points, accounting for four of the team's 12 made 3-pointers.
Western Kentucky, which holds a 4-8 overall mark, is coming off back-to-back losses. Most recently, WKU dropped a 76-63 decision to Furman on Dec. 17. Derrick Gordon led three Hilltoppers in double figures, tallying 12 points and nine rebounds. Kahlil McDonald and Jamal Crook each tallied 11 points. Bryson Barnes came off the bench to score 26 points for Furman, which shot 51.2 percent (21-of-41) from the field and nearly 64 percent (7-of-11) from 3-point range. WKU, however, only managed to connect on 36.7 percent (22-of-60) of its shots from the field and less than 30 percent (7-of-24) from beyond the arc.
The Hilltoppers are under the direction of fourth-year Ken McDonald, who's led the program to a 66-46 overall mark. This year, Western Kentucky was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference's East Division in the preseason coaches' poll. Gordon leads the team with 10.7 points per game and also is the team's leader with 6.4 rebounds per contest.
Along with its remarkable on-the-court success, the men's basketball team is showing tremendous poise in the classroom, as 14 of the Cardinals' student-athletes achieved a 3.0 or better grade-point average this semester. It marks the most to achieve that mark in program history and, collectively, the team earned a 3.16 GPA for the fall. Last season, Louisville earned the BIG EAST Conference Team Academic Excellence Award, which recognizes the highest collective grade-point averages in each of the conference's 26 sports
THE SERIES - Western Kentucky vs. Louisville
Western Kentucky and Louisville will be meeting for the 75th time in series history, making it the Cardinals' third most-played opponent. Western Kentucky owns the all-time series advantage, 39-35, but the Cardinals have dominated as of late, winning 19 of the last 22 contests. Last year, Louisville's offense put on a show, connecting on 16 3-pointers in a 114-82 rout. Peyton Siva led all scorers with 29 points, hitting 8 of 13, and earning eight assists.
GAME FACTS - Western Kentucky at Louisville
Date: Friday, Dec. 23
Time: 7:02 p.m.
Site: KFC Yum! Center/Crum Court, Louisville, Ky. (22,000)
TV: ESPN2 will televise the game nationally, with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play) and Jimmy Dykes (color) calling the action.
Radio: WHAS (840 AM) will broadcast the game on radio, with Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Doug Ormay (color) calling the action.
SIRIUS: Game will be available on SIRIUS Channel 85 and XM Channel 85.
Series History: Western Kentucky leads the all-time series, 39-35 (18-25 in Louisville, 16-8 in Bowling Green, 5-2 neutral).
Officials: Roger Ayers, Les Jones, Doug Shows
Next U of L Game: Wednesday, Dec. 28 vs. Georgetown, KFC Yum! Center, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)