Arkansas St.-Louisville Preview

BY foxsports • November 21, 2011

With Kyle Kuric leading the way, injury-plagued Louisville continues to persevere.

The seventh-ranked Cardinals look to open 4-0 for a third consecutive season when they host Arkansas State on Tuesday night.

Already dealing with injuries to Rakeem Buckles (right knee) and promising freshman Wayne Blackshear (right shoulder), Louisville lost junior Mike Marra (torn ACL) for the season just over a week ago. Point guard Peyton Siva became the latest to go do down, suffering a sprained left ankle in practice Nov. 14.

Siva, averaging 10.5 points and a team-best 6.0 assists, is doubtful to face Arkansas State (1-3) after missing Saturday's 69-53 win at Butler.

With Siva - whom coach Rick Pitino calls his best player - sidelined, Louisville took a one-point lead into the break before Kuric stepped up in the second half, scoring 12 of his season-high 17 points over the final 20 minutes.

Kuric spent a lot of time beyond the arc last season, finishing eighth in the Big East with 70 made 3-pointers. The senior swingman, however, has proven more difficult to defend after improving his all-around game.

"I've worked on (better shooting) a lot during the summer and I continue to work on it even now," he said. "I've got to do something else besides hitting wide-open 3s."

The Cardinals have yet to really be tested, outscoring opponents by an average of 23.6 points while limiting them to just 29.7 percent shooting. Louisville, which has allowed fewer than 55 points in each of its first three games, hasn't done so in four consecutive contests since Dec. 4-14, 1946.

The Cardinals seem likely to continue their defensive prowess against the Red Wolves, who are averaging just 56.3 points on 38.6 percent shooting.

Arkansas State trailed by 13 points at halftime en route to a 69-54 defeat at Ohio on Sunday.

The Red Wolves have been plagued by sloppy play all season, averaging 18.8 turnovers. They committed 22 on Sunday - their highest total in nearly five years.

"I'm not disappointed in how we tried to play," coach John Brady told the school's official athletics website. "The problem was we turned it over 14 times in the second half. We are going to have turnovers, but to turn the ball over like we have is just incredible."

Brandon Peterson and Trey Finn scored 19 and 17 points, respectively, on a combined 12-of-17 effort from the floor. The rest of the team, however, made just 7 of 26 shots - 26.9 percent.

Finn, who leads the team with 14.3 points per game, has been tremendous from 3-point range, making 9 of 16 attempts (56.3 percent) over his last three games. He could struggle to get going from beyond the arc versus a stifling Cardinals defense holding opponents to just 23.6 percent from long distance.

Louisville, which begins a stretch of 10 consecutive home games Tuesday, has taken 22 of 24 at the KFC Yum! Center - including 11 in a row by an average of 13.8 points. The Red Wolves have dropped 10 of their last 11 non-conference road matchups.

The Cardinals have won both previous meetings in this series. The teams haven't met since Dec. 4, 2005, when Louisville prevailed 67-55.

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