With 11 new players and an uncertain coaching situation, it would be easy for Louisville to struggle heading into conference play early in the new year — but that hasn’t been the case at all as the Cardinals seek their fifth straight win Wednesday against visiting Albany. Louisville fended off rival Memphis 81-72 Saturday in the showcase game at the Gotham Classic in New York and will wrap up the event against a Great Danes team off to an equally impressive start.
Louisville bent several times but wouldn’t break against the Tigers, shooting a blistering 53.8 percent from beyond the arc to quash any Memphis uprisings. “The thing I was pleased with — and I kept telling them in the timeouts — every time they went on a run, we needed to respond with a run of our own and we seemed to do that,” head coach David Padgett said after the game. “(I am) really proud of our team.” With a date with Kentucky coming up in a little more than a week, the Cardinals still have some some prep work to do — beginning with a home showdown with an Albany team that bounced back from a nine-point loss to Memphis with a narrow 68-65 triumph over Canisius on Saturday. Travis Charles led the way with 24 points as the Great Danes overcame a 20-percent shooting effort from deep.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT ALBANY (11-2): No team in Division I allows fewer rebounds than the Great Danes, who surrender just 28.2 boards per contest and finished with a 33-29 rebounding edge against Canisius. Joe Cremo leads the team and ranks third in the America East Conference in scoring at 17.8 points per game; he also leads the conference in free-throw shooting at 90 percent on 4.6 attempts per outing. Backcourt mate David Nichols contributes 15.7 points per contest but was held to six against Canisius and has connected on only 3-of-18 attempts from beyond the arc over his previous three games.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (8-2): Cardinals forward Deng Adel leads the team in scoring at 16.0 points and has been remarkably consistent of late, pouring in between 15 and 17 points in each of his previous three games. Forward Ray Spalding is enjoying a breakout season as a junior with 10.1 points and 9.6 rebounds (sixth in the ACC); he had double-doubles against Siena and Indiana and came within a rebound of repeating the feat against both Bryant and Memphis. Louisville is averaging 8.5 blocked shots through its first 10 games, tops in the nation.
1. Egyptian F Anas Mahmoud averages a whopping four blocks per game for Louisville, fourth-most in the country.
2. Louisville leads the ACC in free-throw shooting at 78.3 percent; Albany is second in the America East at 75.2 percent.
3. The Great Danes have outrebounded all 13 of their opponents so far in 2017-18.
PREDICTION: Louisville 76, Albany 66