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Halfway Point of the Season: The Pack Visits Louisville

Got to get up for this one, we cannot let UNC beat us twice

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at N.C. State Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday January 13, 12:00 PM ET

Where: Louisville KY - KFC Yum! Center

TV: The CW

Opponent: Louisville Cardinals (Q3)

Preseason Conference Prediction: 14th (of 15) in the ACC

Pomeroy Prediction: Wolfpack 76-70

Wolfpack Snapshot: KP #67, NET 71, 9th in ACC NET rankings

Wolfpack Season So Far: (11-4 / 3-1)

Wolfpack Injury Report: Ross - ankle

Opponent Overview

Last season Louisville (6-9 / 1-3, NET 236, KP 188) brought back former player and member of Denny Crum’s national championship team, Kenny Payne, to replace Christ Mack who had been fired mid-season 2022. In only his second season as a head coach, Coach Payne comes off a 4-win season (including possibly keeping Clemson out of the NCAAT?), the worst in Louisville history. The Cards are doing better this season, with 6 wins in mid-January, but the fanbase is making a lot of ugly noises, including a petition, a website, and a weak song called “Fire Kenny Payne”.

Their Season So Far:

Five of their wins have been against teams ranked NET 241 or below. KenPom predicted they would go winless in the ACC.

And then they went to Miami (NET 61) Wednesday night and won 80-71! (suck it, KenPom!) Much like our Wednesday night game, it was all about the shooting. The rest of the team stats were very similar.

Stat: Louisville / Miami

  • FG%: 49.1% / 38.8%
  • 3PT%: 43.5% / 32.4%
  • FT%: 87.5% / 53.3%

Mike James (28 points, 8-12 / 5-6 / 5-6) and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (22 points, 9-13 / 1-1 / 3-4) carried the load.

This was the first road win in Coach Payne’s coaching career! And if you look at their injury list below, it’s even more impressive.

Team Statistical Comparison

Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PT pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PT pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
NCS 76.1 43.80% 32.70% 7.5 36.7 13.4 8.7 7.6 2.8
Louisville 73.2 42.80% 31% 6 36.7 11.6 12.7 5.5 3.1

Player Notes

  • As often happens after a trainwreck season they lost a lot of players, they have just five returners – starter Mike James (RS-S), starter J.J. Traynor (SR), starter Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (JR), Hercy Miller (JR), and Emmanuel Okorafor (SO).
  • They added 4 HS recruits - (247 # 28) Dennis Evans (FR), (247 #78) Kaleb Glenn (FR), (247 #77) Curtis Williams Jr.(247 #118) (FR) and Ty-Laur Johnson (FR);
  • And added 4 D1 transfers - (Illinois) Skyy Clark (SO), (USC – P12 All-Freshman team) Tre White (SO) and (Miami) Danilo Jovanovich (SO); and JUCO Koron Davis (JR)

That’s a young team, 1 Senior, 3 Junior, 5 sophomores, and 4 freshmen. 10 different players have started so far. But, stay tuned, it gets worse…

Key Player Injuries:

  1. In December, JUCO transfer Koron Davis was dismissed.
  2. On January 4, “Freshman center Dennis Evans [started 5 games] will not be medically cleared to compete at the University of Louisville moving forward.”
  3. On January 6, JJ Traynor [started 3 games] - the senior - out for the season
  4. Emmanuel Okorafor – ankle – questionable (missed their last two games)
  5. Tre White [started 12 games] – groin – questionable (missed their last two games)

Louisville Probable Starting Lineup

Player Class Pos Height Weight PPG 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST BLK STL
Player Class Pos Height Weight PPG 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST BLK STL
James RS-S GF 6'5" 200 13.9 41.1% 3.7 5.7 1.5 0.2 1
Clark SO G 6'3" 205 14.5 28.4% 4.9 3.4 2.8 0.1 1
Huntley-Hatfield JR F 6'10" 240 10.1 25.0% 0.5 8.6 1 0.9 1
Miller JR G 6'3" 175 1.6 40.0% 0.7 0 0.4 0 0
Jovanovich SO F 6'8" 220 0.9 0.0% 0 1.4 0.2 0.1 0

Keys To The Game

  • Guard the 3PT shooters – Mike James has hit 5 in each of their last two games. Louisville is ranked last in the ACC in 3PT FG made on the season, but they seem to have figured something out. They have made 10 (the most in any game this season) in each of their last two games and shot over 40% as a team.
  • Stay on the scorers - Guards Skyy Clark (29 versus NM St) and Mike James (28 versus Miami) are their most likely to have big scoring nights.
  • Block out the rebounder - Huntley-Hatfield is 5th in the ACC at 8.6 Rpg , but is also a very good offensive rebounder – 4th in the ACC. We’ve got to prevent those easy put backs.

For The Wolfpack to Win

Louisville is ranked last in the ACC in defense. We should be able to score, for a change.

Hopefully the players will have put UNC behind them and get back to playing NC State basketball. That should be enough.