NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Preview: Morgan State vs. Louisville

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Morgan State Golden Bears @ Louisville Cardinals
KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, KY
Monday, Dec. 27, 2010
Time: 8:00 pm EST
Series History: Louisville leads 1-0

After ten strait home games to open the season, the Cardinals went to Bowling Green and dismantled the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky 114-82 last week and now return home to the cozy confines of the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville will take on the Morgan State Golden Bears in one final tune-up before their New Years Eve in-state battle with Kentucky.

Morgan State just got busted by 42 points at Syracuse (97-55) in their last game, but Cards fans shouldn’t read too much into that. The Orange turned around two days later and beat the Drexel Dragons by 28 points (93-65); the same Dragons that are the only squad to defeat the Cardinals this year. The Golden Bears have been one of the top Mid-Major programs over the past four seasons. However, Louisville should handle them easily if they aren’t looking ahead to the Wildcats.

Morgan State isn’t a pushover though, they have won three consecutive MEAC regular season titles and won the conference tournament, going on to the Big Dance the past two seasons. The Golden Bears are led by 6′ 9″ junior Kevin Thompson, the reigning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Last year Thompson finished 4th in the nation in rebounding, pulling down 11.9 boards a game. So far this year he is averaging 9.7 boards a contest to go along with his 14.1 points per game, good for second on the team.

Their leading scorer is Dewayne Jackson, a 6′ 8″ sophomore forward who pours in 14.7 points a game. Last season Jackson averaged 10.1 points per game, earning him recognition as the school’s first MEAC Rookie of the Year selection ever.

One would think 7’1″ freshman center Ian Chiles would wreak havoc underneath, but the big man has failed to record a block in 40 minutes of action this season.

Morgan State features three JUCO transfers, starting guard Larry Bastfield, who despite playing 26+ minutes a game, averages just 3.6 points. Bastfield does lead the team in assists, dishing out 3.3 dimes a game. Fellow transfer Tola Lawal was a two-time JUCO All-American and scored 1,104 points in his two seasons at Erie Community College. Lawal is averaging 4.6 points in just 9.6 minutes a game so far, and should continue to see his role expand going forward. The Golden Bears third transfer is a 6′ 6″ guard from Jacksonville State, Aric Brooks. Brooks is currently third on the team in both points (9.4) and rebounds (5.1), and second in assists (2.8).

Fifth year head coach Todd Bozeman is a winner. He’s sitting on 98 wins in just his fifth season at Morgan State and has made it to the NCAA Tournament in five of his total eight years as head coach. He is 2-5 in the tournament as well, falling as the 15 seed last year to West Virginia. Bozeman will have his guys ready to play, Louisville can count on that; Bozeman has won three strait MEAC Coach of the Year awards as well.

Morgan State is a big team, starting three forwards, a forward-center and just one guard. They are affectionately known as the “Baltimore Bullies” for their propensity to dominate the glass and paint area. If they can force Louisville into their style of play, much like Drexel did it could get interesting. Unfortunately they will not be able to do so and Louisville should run away with this one in a snoozefest, just missing back-to-back triple digit scoring performances.

Louisville 96, Morgan State 69