Samford Bulldogs vs. Louisville Cardinals
Tip-off: Thursday, November 15, 2012 – 7:00 PM ET
KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
The Louisville Cardinals coach Rick Pitino impressed many YouWager fans with a season-opening win, even when many were expecting it due to the amount of players that returned from last season’s Final Four team.
The second-ranked Louisville college basketball team has a good opportunity for another dominant performance when it hosts the Samford Bulldogs tonight.
The Cardinals returned 11 players from a 30-win squad that fell to eventual national champion Kentucky Wildcats in the national semifinals, including Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
All three were helpful in Sunday’s 79-51 win over Manhattan to begin a season filled with high expectations, and Pitino wasn’t shy about discussing how pleased he was with each — especially Siva and Smith.
Dieng was able to score nine points and played his customary solid defense in 20 minutes, Siva scored 10 points and dished out a career high-tying 10 assists to earn high marks from his coach.
However, as the college basketball live lines point out, it was Smith who was the most helpful — and earned the most praise from Pitino — by scoring a game-high 23 points and finishing with five steals.
Smith averaged 11.5 points and finished third in the Big East in steals playing mostly a reserve role in the 2011-12 season.
Pitino did say the Cardinals rebounding needs to be much better after it was out-rebounded 37-33 on Sunday.
That seems destined to hold true against a Bulldogs team that has shot 38.6 and 44.9 percent, respectively, in its first two contests.
Samford (1-1), shooting 19.1 percent from 3-point range, lost their opener 75-64 at Austin Peay on Friday before Monday’s 59-40 home win over NAIA school Martin Methodist. Freshman Tim Williams finished with team highs of 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.