No. 4 Louisville will have three additional players for its game Saturday at 2 p.m. vs. Miami.
A hobbled and short-staffed Cardinals (19-5, 7-4) team got beat by 16 points Monday night at No. 12 Virginia. But Louisville will have a drastically different lineup Saturday vs. the Hurricanes (16-7, 6-5).
Louisville regained the service of starting wing Deng Adel and backup center Mangok Mathiang. Both were suspended last game for skipping curfew last Saturday night after Louisville’s win at Boston College.
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“We want to apologize for the selfish and stupid mistake,” Mangok Mathiang said Friday with Deng Adel by his side. “Right now, we are happy we are back on the team. We have been practicing and getting ready for Miami. We just want to try to make a run the rest of the season and try to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Cardinals will also regain starting point guard Quentin Snider, who has been sidelined for five weeks with a strained hip flexor. Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he is unsure how much Snider will be available to play.
“He will play tomorrow, but he probably won’t start,” Pitino said. “He could start, I’m not sure about that, but I want to see how he looks today in practice. … This will be the third day he has practice. … He’s a few pounds overweight from not being able to work out, but just a couple.”
Prior to losing Snider, the Cardinals were 15-3. They lost to both ranked teams they played in his absence — a 73-68 loss at Florida State and a 71-55 loss at Virginia.
“When we are at full strength, we’re a pretty good basketball team,” Pitino said.
In Miami, the Cardinals have a team coming in hot. The Hurricanes have won four of their last five games. They also beat Louisville the last time they played Louisville, a 73-65 loss at Miami last Feb. 27.
“I think are you are watching the dog days of February right now you can see there are a lot of teams vying for position in the ACC and a lot of teams vying for an NCAA berth,” Pitino said. “There are a lot of teams playing great basketball right now. Miami is certainly playing great basketball.”
Pitino said Miami’s transition game and three-point shooting worry him.
“NC State had the lead and all of a sudden the lead changed drastically because of how Miami shoots,” Pitino said. “That is what the three-point shot does. … and they will take them. … They have four guys who can shoot it, so we have to be ready for it.”
Miami is currently hitting 37.5 percent from long-range, which is among the Top 50 teams in the nation.
The Cardinals have been one of the better defensive teams in the country against the three. So far this season, the Cardinals are limiting opponents to 28.5 percent from long-range, third best in the country.
“We have been one of the best three-point defensive teams in the country the last three years,” Pitino said. “We place great importance on stopping the three.”
In 2015, Louisville was 17th in the nation in three-point defense. Foes hit just 30.3 percent of three-point shots that season. Last season, Louisville was 48th, allowing 32.1 percent shooting.
Miami is one of the most-efficient offensive teams in the country, ranking 11th according to Ken Pomeroy’s computer ratings.
Senior wing Davon Reed is averaging 15.9 points per game. Junior guard Ja’Quan Newton is at 15.0 and freshman wing Bruce Brown is scoring 11.7. Reed is the primary three-point threat, hitting 61 threes at a 41.8 percent clip.
The Hurricanes also one of the slowest-paced teams in the nation, currently ranked 306th in adjusted tempo.
“We don’t do well against teams who make us take our time,” Pitino said.
The Cardinals are led by sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell’s 15.0 points per game. Snider, a senior guard, was averaging 12.1 points per game before his injury. Adel, a sophomore wing, is averaging 11.1 points per game.
Miami coach Jim Larranaga said his team’s recent winning ways are actually more about defense than good offense.
“That was the difference in the ball game,” Larranaga said after his team beat Virginia Tech. “It was tied and then all of a sudden, we had the lead. It was all due to getting stops.”