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Sat, Jan 18, 2014 - 9:00 PM ET
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Louisville-UConn Preview

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Louisville played its last game without its starting point guard, and it got by just fine.

The 18th-ranked Cardinals will again be without Chris Jones on Saturday night at Connecticut, a team that could present more of a backcourt challenge if Ryan Boatright is available.

"We know it's going to be a great game," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They've got one of the premiere backcourts. I wish Chris (Jones) was playing - he's not going to play, I wish he was."

A UConn spokesman said it wasn't clear Friday if Boatright will play after his cousin was shot to death Monday. Boatright wrote his cousin's initials on his left cheek before scoring a sleepless seven points Thursday in an 83-73 win at No. 17 Memphis.

In addition to uncertain backcourts, both teams are taking the court on quick turnarounds. Louisville (15-3, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) dismantled Houston 91-52 on Thursday while UConn (14-3, 2-2) upset the Tigers.

Jones, third on Louisville with 11.3 points per game, missed the Cardinals' victory because of an injured oblique muscle, and it's uncertain how long he'll be out.

Freshman Terry Rozier was inserted into the starting backcourt alongside top scorer Russ Smith (18.1), and though Rozier didn't have the best offensive night with nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, Pitino was happy with his role.

"He was very consistent," Pitino said. "Terry's got to stop worrying about scoring; our philosophy is shoot as many times as you want as long as it's a good shot. He's got to stop concerning himself with that. He'll mature in that area."

On a night that also featured typical starting swingman Wayne Blackshear (9.9 points per game) in a reserve role, Louisville hit a season-best 15 3-pointers on 28 attempts. Blackshear, who had fouled out of three of his previous five games, scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and went 5 of 6 from 3-point range in a team-high 29 minutes.

"His intensity was just in another world," said Smith, who chipped in 18 on 6-of-8 shooting and is averaging 21.2 points in conference action. "He locks in when he comes off the bench. If someone could look up his numbers when he comes off the bench, it's like, tremendous. ... When he does that, when he gives that efficiency like he did tonight, we are almost unstoppable."

It was Blackshear's first game in a reserve role this season, and he's averaging 15.0 points on 57.9 percent shooting in his last four appearances off the bench dating to last season. He'd been held to 2.5 points in 14.0 minutes in his previous two starts.

The Cardinals have won consecutive games against the Huskies by an average of 18.0 points and three straight at UConn. The last meeting was a 73-58 road win for Louisville on Jan. 14, 2013. Smith scored a game-high 23 points.

The win over Memphis improved the Huskies to 2-0 against ranked opponents this season after they'd lost their first two conference road games to Houston and SMU.

Forward DeAndre Daniels led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds while Boatright's backcourt mate, Shabazz Napier, added 17 despite a 1-for-8 shooting night from 3-point range.

"That was definitely a big one," Napier said. "We hit that little slump where we were not really second-guessing who we were, but trying to figure out how good we really are. Everybody came to play. ... That second half we proved to ourselves that we are a good team."

Napier is averaging a team-high 16.1 points followed by Daniels (13.4) and Boatright (12.4).

Tagged: Louisville, Connecticut, Shabazz Napier, Russ Smith

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