Without G Snider, No. 12 Louisville faces Clemson

LOUISVILLE — No. 12 Louisville won’t have starting point guard Quentin Snider on Thursday when it hosts Clemson at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

Snider, who strained a hip flexor in the second half of Saturday’s 78-69 win over Duke, likely will miss the next two to three weeks of games, according to coach Rick Pitino. Louisville’s game notes list freshman Ryan McMahon as the starter at point in place of Snider.

“We’ve all been working at point,” sophomore starting guard Donovan Mitchell said. “I brought the ball up, Ryan brought the ball up, Tony (Hicks) brought the ball up — even Matz (7-footer Matz Stockman) is trying it.”

The Cardinals (15-3, 3-2) likely will use a combination of McMahon, senior transfer Hicks and senior walk-on David Levitch at the point guard spot.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell hasn’t spent much time worrying about Louisville’s lineup change. The Tigers (11-6, 1-4) are hungry for an ACC win after losing its last four games versus North Carolina, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Virginia.

“I haven’t thought a lot about Louisville. I’ve been thinking about our team,” Brownell said. “To be honest with you, it’s hard sometimes to get them to compete as hard as I need them to compete, to follow the details of the defense like they need to. We haven’t done a good enough job of coaching them that way to improve some of that. It’s been a battle with our team.”

Clemson has been close in several league losses. The Tigers took No. 14 North Carolina to overtime before falling 89-86. The Notre Dame contest was a one possession game in the final two minutes. The Tigers lost to No. 19 Virginia 77-73.

“Louisville is one of the best teams in the country,” Brownell said. “They play as hard as anybody you’ll play. You have to have an unbelievable will, unbelievable level of effort to go in there and match those guys in their environment, the way they play. Your competitive spirit has got to be really high. We’ve got to get ourselves right.”

And the Cardinals know that Clemson is formidable. Louisville lost 66-62 last year at Clemson and the 2015 game was within a possession late in the second half before the Cardinals pulled away 58-52.

“They beat us last year,” Pitino said. “They’re capable of beating anybody in our conference, but that’s true of just about anyone.”

“We know how good they are,” guard Deng Adel said.

Clemson grad forward Jaron Blossomgame is one of the top players in the league. He has four-straight 20-point performances and is averaging 18.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He’ll be guarded by Adel on the wing.

Without Snider, the Cardinals’ defense could have to shift as well. Louisville has had two practices without him so far. Pitino said Tuesday that he wasn’t quite sure which lineup would work best.

The Cardinals’ coach did compliment Snider’s toughness, saying he will be back 3-5 days faster than a normal player, but that he needs to rest his hip to make sure he is healthy before playing again.

“Q is such a tough guy,” Pitino said. “We have some guys who take a small hit and it looks like they got hit by Muhammad Ali, but Q got back in there and finished the game Saturday.”

Clemson graduate year G Avry Holmes has made a 3-pointer in 13 straight games.

Louisville is No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense at 29 percent.

The Cardinals are last in the ACC at 3-point shooting at 34.2 percent.

Louisville is fourth in the nation in blocked shots per game at 6.6.