Before Kentucky, No. 3 Louisville must deal with Miami (Ohio)

NCAA Men's Basketball

One of the worst habits a basketball team can acquire is to become shot-dependent, with the entire performance hinging on making shots.

When Louisville lost 70-57 to Texas Tech on Dec. 10, a result that cost the Cardinals the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll on Monday, coach Chris Mack felt a lack of patience and success on offense led to a drop-off in defensive intensity.

A 99-67 rout of Eastern Kentucky on Saturday represented a step forward for the now-No. 3 Cardinals (10-1), and they will try to maintain that level of play on Wednesday night when Miami (Ohio) comes to the KFC Yum! Center in the Cardinals’ last game before Christmas.

No. 3 Louisville shot 63 percent and registered 22 assists on 34 field goals against a variety of trapping, pressing defenses in its rout of its in-state foe on Saturday.

“One of the bigger concerns that we’ve had as a coaching staff is just to make sure that we take better shots, take better care of the ball and make more passes,” Mack told reporters. “Then you come into a game like this, and sometimes you have opportunities where you have wide-open looks.

“We just wanted to make sure we didn’t settle for the first shot or quickest shot we could get, and I thought some of our guys made some really good decisions. I think our offense took a step forward regardless or competition or the style of play that we played against.”

Jordan Nwora pumped in a game-high 26 points Saturday, upping his team-high scoring average to 21.3 points per game, and Steven Enoch added a season-high 23 on 9-of- 10 shooting. The Cardinals also canned 9 of 19 from beyond the 3-point arc and were 22 of 23 at the foul line, more than offsetting their 16 turnovers and the 16 offensive boards Eastern Kentucky pulled down.

While Louisville tries to negotiate a trap game before its yearly showdown with Kentucky on Dec. 28, Miami aims to pull off the huge upset. The RedHawks (5-5) snapped a four-game losing streak Sunday with a 79-67 decision over Mississippi Valley State.

Bam Bowman led the way with a season-high 20 points and eight rebounds, a performance good enough to win Mid-American Conference East Co-Player of the Week honors. The 6-foot-8, 273-pound senior entered the day scoring only 7.7 points per game.

“I thought the guys did a good job of trying to play the game the right way with 20 assists and only 10 turnovers,” Miami coach Jack Owens said.

Nike Sibande paces the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg, with Dalonte Brown hitting for 13.3 ppg and averaging a team-high seven rebounds. The RedHawks are tallying 74.8 ppg but yielding 73.2 and allowing opponents to can 45 percent from the field.

Owens said Sibande might not be able to play Wednesday night after leaving the Sunday game in the first minute with an injury.

–Field Level Media

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