NCAA Basketball

College Basketball: Jackson State Tigers vs. Louisville Cardinals

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Jackson State Tigers @ Louisville Cardinals
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, KY
Saturday November 20, 2010, Time: 7:37 pm EST
T.V.: WHAS (Ch. 11 in Louisville; Wazoo Sports statewide)
Radio: WHAS 840 AM
Series History: UofL leads 2-0 (1-0 in Louisville, 1-0 neutral)
Officials: Roger Ayers, Clarence Armstrong, Mike Roberts

Get used to seein’ that image of the KFC Yum! Center atop these previews. As mentioned before the Butler game, UofL plays its first 10 games, and 15 of the first 16, in the comforts of its new arena. The one road game? At Western Kentucky, meaning the Cardinals won’t leave the state of Kentucky until a January 9th trip to South Florida.

This game will be the first of four in the KFC Yum! Center as a part of the Global Sports Shootout. Louisville will be seeking its 25th regular season tournament championship in the round robin format. The Cards will also host Chattanooga, Marshall and the Isiah Thomas led Florida International squad.

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Louisville got this nearly two month long homestand started off right on Tuesday night with a wire to wire, 88-73 victory over the defending National Runner-Up Butler Bulldogs. In stark contrast to the Cardinals’ schedule is the Tigers of Jackson State, who will open their 2010 campaign with seven strait on the road and 11 of its first 14 away from home. The first three of those contests were a 24-point loss at TCU, an 80-39 shellacking at the hands of UCF, and then on Thursday night a 63-49 defeat at the hands of (17) Baylor.

The Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Tigers have were led in scoring their first two games by 6′ 8″ junior guard Jenirro Bush. On Thursday against Baylor, fellow junior guard Rod Melvin had 22 points, including six 3-pointers, and was the only player in double figures for Jackson State. Bush still leads the team in scoring through three games, putting up 12.3 points per contest.

I would argue that depth will be on the Tigers’ side on Saturday, as they have the largest roster I have ever seen: 22 players compared to just 17 for Louisville. Nine of those 22 players are averaging more than 10 minutes of court time per game. I would argue that, but I already wasted my time simply including it in this preview.

Is there anything to worry about this Jackson State team? Not really. They are an experienced bunch, starting four seniors and a junior, and the Tigers were the preseason selection to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship, receiving 11 of 20 first-place votes.

Four Tigers earned preseason All-SWAC first or second team honors among the league’s top ten players, including Melvin, senior forward Grant Maxey, senior guard De’Suan Dixon and senior forward Tyrone Hanson.

Maxey is the 2008-09 SWAC Player of the Year and he recently returned to action, giving the Tigers a good defensive presence
and added scoring punch. Maxey suffered a season ending ankle injury in the third game of last season. He was projected to be the SWAC Player of the Year for a second consecutive season.

Jackson State implicated this type of scheduling last year, perhaps to prepare it better for conference play. They really aren’t that terrible of a squad. Last year Tevester Anderson, former coach of Murray State, saw his Tigers begin the year 0-10 before winning six strait and 19 of the next 20 en route to a 17-1 conference record and championship.

Regardless, this one should be a snoozer by halftime. Louisville has never lost to a team from the SWAC (5-0) and will soon be 6-0.

Louisville 87, Jackson St 54

If you’re going to the game, keep a look out for the Cardinal Bird. If he gets bored with the on-court action, he is known for some off-the-court shenanigans…