(Photo Credit: Louisville Athletics)

The Hoosiers head home from their 64-62 victory at State College against the Nittany Lions to play the Louisville Cardinals.

The new expanded conference schedule play leads to an split between playing Northwestern, Penn State and the remainder of the conference schedule. Our game against Louisville will be another welcome test for the Hoosiers who have been dominant at home with a perfect record thus far.

Indiana has continued to be a perplexing team with moments of brilliance and at other times have been plain irritating. Their Achilles heel has been ball control. They average 14+ turnovers in their wins and 19 in their losses. Even in their wins, they have difficulty with ball control. Their lowest this season has been 13 which is nothing to be proud of yet.

Fortunately, the injuries that have been plaguing the Hoosiers are starting to resolve with Zach McRobertsDevonte GreenDe’Ron DavisAl Durham, and Juwan Morgan all having play time at the moment and contributing with significant minutes. Romeo does not appear to be significantly affected by his thumb injury and continues to play like a soon to be lottery pick.

The victory at Penn State is a welcome sight in what appears to be a tough conference top to bottom. What separates the Hoosiers from being 2-0 in conference play is a mere 2 points per game. This also is true for Northwestern, but they are 0-2 now. It is going to be a rough season that could see a lot of “upsets.”

Louisville will be one of the tougher non-conference tests the Hoosiers will face this season. They will not be as tough as Duke, but are currently ranked as 40th on Kenpom. Indiana is currently at 24th.

Meet the Cardinals

Key Departures

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  • Deng Adel – 6’7” / 190 lbs / Forward – Melbourne, Australia. The previous top scorer on the Louisville roster with 15 points per game. Drafted by the Raptors and is currently on the Raptors G League team.
  • Raymond Spalding – 6’10” / 210 lbs / Forward – Louisville, KY. Second top scorer at 12.3 points per game in 2017-18. Drafted 56th by the 76ers and traded to the Mavericks. Has played 1 minute the entire season.
  • Quentin Snider – 6’2” / 180 lbs / Guard – Louisville, KY. Led the team with 4.0 assists a game last season. Headed to Portugal to play for Benifica.
  • Anas Mahmoud – 7’0” / 200 lbs / Forward – Cairo, Egypt. Went undrafted in the 2018 NBA draft. Signed with the Memphis Grizzlies for the NBA Summer League and returned to Egypt to play professionally for Zamalek.
  • Lance Thomas – 6’8” / 210 lbs / Forward – Norcross, GA. Transferred to Memphis Tigers during the offseason. Former top 125, 4 star player in high school.

Projected Starters

  • Jordan Nwora – 6’8” / 215 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Buffalo, NY. Has started the two past games and rightfully so. Averaging 16.4 points per game and 7.1 rebounds a game. Leading the team in both categories. Team is 2-0 with Jordan as a starter.
  • Darius Perry – 6’2” / 170 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Marietta, GA. Despite averaging only 21 minutes a game, has started all but one game. Averaging 9.6 points per game.
  • Steven Enoch – 6’10” / 245 lbs / Center / Junior – Norwalk, CT. Starting center and transfer from UConn. Despite being a bench player at UConn, has been a key member to Louisville’s lineup.
  • Christen Cunningham – 6’2” / 185 lbs / Guard / Senior – Georgetown, KY. Starter that was a graduate transfer from Samford. Started a total of 110 games for Samford and ranks 13th all time for points and 1st for assists for Samford.
  • Dwayne Sutton – 6’5” / 195 lbs / Forward / Junior – Louisville, KY. Hometown player that gets a respectable 8.1 points per game.

The Rotation

  • Ryan McMahon – 6’0” / 165 lbs / Guard / Junior – Sarasota, FL. Plays from the bench most games and has 9.9 points per game. Key player in the victory over Michigan State and had 24 points that game.
  • V.J. King – 6’6” / 190 lbs / Forward / Junior – Cleveland, OH. Has been struggling this season and after the first 5 games being a starter, has been coming off the bench the last 2 games. Took a dip in his points per game from 8.6 last season to 7.4 this season.
  • Malik Williams – 6’11” / 215 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Fort Wayne, IN. Former 5 star recruit and tallest member of the team. Recruited by Indiana back in high school but choose to be a Cardinal.
  • Akoy Agau – 6’8” / 230 lbs / Forward / Senior – Juba, South Sudan. Played for Louisville for 2 seasons, transferred to Georgetown, then to SMU, then now back to Louisville as a graduate transfer.
  • Khwan Fore – 6’2” / 165 lbs / Guard / Senior – Huntsville, AL. Another transfer student for Louisville. Played 4 seasons for Richmond and will play out his last season as a member of the Cardinals.
  • Jacob Redding – 6’1” / 165 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Fort Wayne, IN. Walk-on guard that made appearances in several games last season and one this season.
  • Jo Griffin – 6’1” / 175 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – LaGrange, KY. Walk-on that played in seven games last year as a freshman.
  • Wyatt Battaile – 6’4” / 180 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Pikeville, KY. Has played 3 minutes thus far and is 0-1 in FGs.
  • Will Rainey – 6’3” / 180 lbs / Guard / Senior – Louisville, KY. Prior player for Spalding University and joined the Cardinals as a walk-on after transferring for his final season of eligibility. His best game at Spalding he scored 8 points.

Expectations for the Cardinals

Louisville has been working hard to overcome the scandals from the Rick Pitino era, and have been successful so far. Chris Mack was officially named head coach on March 27th of this year and has had to face one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. Playing Tennessee, Marquette, Michigan State, Seton Hall and will be playing Indiana, and Kentucky before the start of 2019 will push his team to the limit. Thus far having a 5-2 record with victories over Michigan State and Seton Hall prove they are a team to be taken seriously.

Louisville missed the tournament last year and only reached the NIT. This is mainly due to a lack of quality Quadrant 1 wins. They will have plenty of opportunities this year, including traveling to Bloomington this Saturday.

They need to rely on the seniority of their program to carry them far this season. Unlike Kentucky that relies on their freshmen, Louisville has a single freshman on their roster along with several transfers. The seniority and comfort has shown when it comes to crunch time and pulling out close victories against Michigan State and Seton Hall. These games will be crucial in building confidence and their resume come March. Additionally, both will probably be considered Quadrant 1 wins by the committee.

Louisville lost their top three scorers last season, Deng AdelRaymond Spalding, and Quentin SniderV.J. King was their top returning scorer, but even he has not been as instrumental in the success of the cardinals this season. The true X-factor as of late is newly minted starter Jordan Nwora. Having started just the past two games, he has been crucial in the victories against Michigan State and Seton Hall. He only scored 5.7 points per game last season and has shown incredible development and maturity this season.

What Louisville and Indiana both have is considerable balance to their teams. They each have eight players averaging more than 5 points per game. They will continue to play aggressive and force fouls on the Hoosiers. They have the second most free throw attempts in the country with 32.1 (only trailing behind 32.7 from Iowa).

What to Watch For

  1. …ball control IU now averages 15.6 turnovers a game. This weakness ranks them at 294/353 in D1 basketball. Interestingly, Indiana is great at forcing turnovers too though and rank 39th at 16.2 per game. The biggest offender was Devonte Green last game and the season with 2.8 per game, but it has been a top to bottom team issue.
  2. Keep spreading the love. IU needs to keep having good ball movement and involvement among the entire team. Against PSU and Marquette, we did not rely on a standout performance from a single player or two and had 4 players accumulate more than 10 points. We did lose the game against Arkansas with four players scoring over 10, but the game was in reach the entire time due to a solid team performance.
  3. Justin, shaking off the funk. Justin Smith continues to be a big topic of conversation for the Indiana fanbase. Playing 25 minutes and still a starter without scoring a single point is not what we were expecting for the sophomore forward who had very high expectations going into the season as Indiana’s third scoring option. On the bright side, he did total 9 rebounds against PSU. Archie Miller has continued to shown confidence in Justin Smith, and mostly on the defensive side of the ball. With the likes of Zion Williamson and Lamar Stevens, Justin Smith’s assignments are generally the best players on the opposing team.
  4. 70% chance of winning? Now, I believe the Hoosiers are favorites coming into this game especially being at SSAH, but Louisville is not going to be a pushover team. They have a solid team that took down a strong Michigan State team behind newly minted coach Chris Mack. They have a team who can make an appearance in March and trust us, no one will want to face them when they hit their stride.
  5. The turning point for freshman point guard Robert Phinisee may have just occurred with one of the best halves by a Hoosier this year in the second half last game. Everything from dominating the half offensively to making the final defensive stop of the game helped solidify the Hoosier victory. While Phinesee has been phenomenal for the Hoosiers and almost precisely prescribed for the team – calm and controlled ball distribution, we don’t expect this dominance to stop anytime soon and for him as he continues to develop into a star alongside Langford and Morgan.

Injury Watch

Juwan Morgan alleviated injury concerns by playing 26 minutes last game which was 3.5 more than his season average.

IU freshman forward Jerome Hunter (leg) will not be available and redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson(concussion) will likely also not be available for Indiana.

Louisville does not appear to have any injuries of note on their team.

How to Watch

DateSaturday, December 8th
Time2:30 PM EST
RadioHoosiersTV Audio

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