Louisville just went through some turmoil off the court with the dismissal of Chane Behanan but looks just fine on the court after back-to-back road wins to begin American Athletic Conference play. The eighth-ranked Cardinals will play the first of three straight at home when they host No. 22 Memphis on Thursday. The Tigers are one of the few teams comfortable playing at Louisville’s fast tempo and look to shake off a tough loss.
Memphis averages 80.5 points but shot 33.3 percent in a 69-53 home loss to Cincinnati on Saturday - 20 point below its previous season low. “There is no time to have a pity party because our schedule is getting tougher and tougher,” Tigers coach Josh Pastner said. “We go on the road to play at Louisville and then at Temple. Those are going to be tough games, and we have a lot to work on before then.” The Cardinals average 84.9 points and knocked off Central Florida and Rutgers to begin conference play.
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ABOUT MEMPHIS (10-3, 1-1 AAC): The Tigers lean heavily on senior guards Michael Dixon Jr., Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson, and the four combined to go 14-for-49 from the floor against Cincinnati. “Our four senior guards have to play better if we are going to win games,” Pastner said. “The big picture is that simple.” Memphis shoots just 29.2 percent from 3-point range and is at its best when the guards can get into the lane for easy baskets, something that could be easier with Behanan gone from the Cardinals.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (13-2, 2-0): Behanan was a big part of the Cardinals’ run to the national championship last season but began the 2013-14 campaign with a suspension and played in 12 games before being dismissed from the team earlier this week. “We lost a terrific young man in many respects,” coach Rick Pitino said. “Between the lines, he gave great effort and was a great teammate, a wonderful young man to be around.” Behanan is reportedly heading to Houston to work with former NBA coach and player John Lucas, who runs a drug and alcohol treatment program.
1. Louisville G Russ Smith has gone over 20 points in each of the first two AAC games.
2. Jackson is shooting a career-low 24.2 percent from beyond the arc.
3. The Cardinals won at the Tigers 87-78 behind 22 points from Behanan last season.
PREDICTION: Louisville 85, Memphis 82