Miami (Ohio)-Louisville Preview
After making rebounding a top priority, No. 2 Louisville went out and proved it can dominate the glass.
The Cardinals, who were outworked on the boards in their season opener, try to build off a much stronger showing in their most recent outing as they host Miami of Ohio on Sunday afternoon.
Louisville (2-0) had four players pull down at least five rebounds on the way to a 53-28 advantage on the glass in a 80-54 home victory over Samford on Thursday in the opener of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
Sophomore Chane Behanan finished with a career-high 18 boards and added 12 points to lead the effort, while senior center Gorgui Dieng had 13 rebounds along with 10 points and four blocks.
Behanan and Dieng combined to grab 18 of the team's 28 offensive rebounds.
"Chane was terrific, and Gorgui (too),'' senior point guard Peyton Siva said. ''Everybody just hit the glass hard. The main emphasis this week was our rebounding. I think if we continue to rebound like this, we'll be a tough team to matchup against.''
It was a much-needed turnaround for the Cardinals after they had been outrebounded 37-33 by Manhattan in a season-opening win last weekend. They'll need to continue that effort against a Miami team that has been solid on the offensive glass, with 33 offensive boards in two games.
"We improved our rebounding and that was a staple,'' Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
Behanan, who started 37 games for the Cardinals last season, returned to the starting lineup for the first time since a series of off-court incidents resulted in a suspension for the team's two exhibition games.
Guard Russ Smith, who has eight of the team's 15 3-pointers, had 18 points off the bench in Thursday's victory.
Overall, however, the Cardinals are still searching for consistency on offense after shooting just 38.9 percent from the field and 7 of 31 from 3-point range versus the Bulldogs.
Louisville, though, should be able to find some good looks against the RedHawks, who have allowed their two opponents to shoot a combined 54.5 percent from the field, including 15 of 35 from 3-point range.
Miami (1-1) faces likely its greatest challenge of the season after defeating Grambling State 80-54 on Monday to give coach John Cooper his first victory after being hired from Tennessee State in the offseason.
Reggie Johnson led five Miami players in double-digits with 20 points off the bench as the RedHawks needed a 29-3 second-half run to pull out the win.
The RedHawks will try to keep taking the ball away following a program-record 22-steal performance against Grambling State. Quinten Rollins had seven steals for Miami, which ranks among the best in the nation at 14.5 per game.
"We are going to rely on our defense the whole season," Rollins said. "We have to be a scrappy team."
The RedHawks, who suffered a 97-59 loss to No. 6 North Carolina State in their opener, have lost 21 straight games to ranked opponents since defeating then-No. 10 Boston College in the 2001-02 season.
Miami has never beaten Louisville in three all-time meetings, including a 47-44 loss the last time they met in 2007.