After defeating Iowa, 77-64, Monday, IU heads to Louisville for IU’s second nonconference game against an ACC foe this season.
Here’s what you need to know about the Cardinals.
Louisville is the best defense IU has faced
Heading into Saturday’s game, Louisville has the 11th best defense per Kenpom. This is the best unit IU has faced all year and compares with the defense of Seton Hall who IU lost to 84-68. Opposing teams have an effective field goal percentage of 42.1 against Louisville, which is eighth best in the country. IU’s offense will undoubtedly face its toughest test of the season.
The Cardinals strength lies down low
So far this season, Louisville’s big men have been the strength of the defense. Louisville is only allowing teams to shoot 39.4 percent from two-point range, which is good enough for third in the country. On the other hand, IU is shooting 54.7 percent from two.
“They are a very big team,” IU Coach Archie Miller said. “That's how they were constructed. They play a certain style defensively, whether it is their matchup or their man or their zones that they take advantage of the length.”
According to Kenpom, Louisville is the seventh-tallest team in the country. Because of its length, Louisville has the third-highest block percentage in the country. Louisville’s junior forward Ray Spalding is one of their best defenders with the highest block rate on the team to go along with the 31st best steal rate in the country. Senior forward Anas Mahmoud has the seventh best block rate in the country at 16.2 percent.
“Personally, I’m just trying to attack,” IU sophomore forward De'Ron Davis said. “Last year, I did the same thing and I think this year, the whole team just got to attack their presence, their bigs, get them in foul trouble and attack the rim. We can’t let their length bother us.”
Louisville struggles from three-point range.
Since Monday’s victory over Iowa, the Hoosiers have had the opportunity to narrow in on specific areas to improve during practice. One of those has been defense.
“In the half court, how can we become more disciplined,” Miller said. “How can we become more aware of positioning and some of the things that I think are really hurting our team, in terms of giving up 3-point shots. It's not just that teams are getting wide open looks, it's why are they getting them?”
The Cardinals have struggled to shoot from three-point range this season. Their three-point percentage of 33.3 ranks 221st in the country. Louisville’s senior point guard Quentin Snider is shooting 25.7 percent from three, while his backcourt partner sophomore guard VJ King is shooting 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.
IU has to limit junior forward Deng Adel
Adel has been Louisville's leading scorer this season at 16.0 points per game. He’s the only Cardinal averaging double-digits and is shooting 50-percent from the field. In a loss to Purdue, the Boilermakers held Adel to 13 points. If IU’s going to knock off Louisville, Adel can’t have a huge afternoon.
Louisville doesn’t turn teams over
While the Cardinals have a strong defense, one area where they aren’t top in the country is turning teams over. Luckily for IU, they've done a good job of keeping the turnover number low this season. Last year, the Hoosiers were the 322nd ranked team in terms of turnover percentage, and under Miller, the Hoosiers have improved to 86th in the country.
Even though Louisville isn’t turning teams over at a high rate this season, Miller said he still wants his team to be careful with the ball.
“But our turnovers are something we're constantly evaluating the discipline and the decision-making, especially when it comes to first half,” Miller said. “First half of games is when they're away from you.”
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