Cougars To Battle Second Top 25 Foe In No. 5 Louisville
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (5-2, 1-0 SoCon) vs. #5/#6 LOUISVILLE (6-1, 0-0 BIG EAST)
December 4, 2012 • 9:00 p.m. (ET)
TD Arena/John Kresse Court (5,100)
at Charleston, S.C.
Radio: College of Charleston Radio Network (ESPN Radio 910 AM)
Series History: Louisville Leads 2-0
Last Meeting: No. 4 Louisville def. CofC, 69-62, on Dec. 20, 2011 in Louisville, Ky.
Internet: Free Live Statistics at www.CofCSports.com
College of Charleston: Doug Wojcik
First Year at CofC: 5-2 (.714)
Eighth Year Overall: 145-94 (.607)
Louisville: Rick Pitino
12th Year at Louisville: 281-107 (.724)
28th Year Overall: 635-235 (.730)
RADIO (College of Charleston Radio Network)
Play-By-Play: Jeff McCarragher
Color Analyst: Everett German
Play-By-Play: Carter Blackburn
Color Analyst: Fran Fraschilla
Producer: Scott Gustafson
After going 3-0 on the road, the College of Charleston men's basketball team (5-2, 1-0 SoCon) returns home to battle its second top 25 foe in No. 5/6-ranked Louisville (6-1, 0-0 BIG EAST) on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at TD Arena. Tipoff between the Cougars and Cardinals is set for 9 p.m. (ET) and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. CofC has strung together four wins in a row and will play its third game in the course of seven short days, while U of L makes its first true road trip of the season having played four of its first seven games at home and on neutral ground at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas. In less than two weeks' time, the Cougars will have faced two ranked squads who reached the NCAA Elite Eight or better behind a 63-59 victory at then No. 25/21-ranked Baylor on Nov. 24 - the program's first win over a top 25 opponent since 2010 and second-ever on the road since 1993. CofC currently ranks No. 15 nationally in three-point field goal percentage (41.5%) and has defensively held opponents to a low 27.1 percent accuracy from beyond the arc this season which ranks 38th best. Both programs were recently involved in conference realignment news as CofC announced last week it will move to the Colonial Athletic Association in 2013 and Louisville to the ACC in 2014.
THREE TIMES THE CHARM
Tuesday's contest will mark only the third time in program history the Cougars will host a top-10 ranked team in the Lowcountry. Louisville will be the highest-ranked opponent to play on CofC's home court in school history - the second top 10 opponent in TD Arena history since the venue opened in 2008. Under legendary head coach John Kresse, the Cougars hosted No. 7 Connecticut, then led by South Carolina native Ray Allen who was in his senior season, at the North Charleston Coliseum (L, 60-77) on Dec. 27, 1995. Fifteen years later, CofC hosted No. 9 North Carolina (W, 82-79 OT) under Bobby Cremins on Jan. 4, 2010 at Carolina First Arena (now renamed TD Arena).
LOUISVILLE AT A GLANCE
Louisville is coming off a close 69-66 decision over Illinois State on Dec. 1. The Cardinals started the year off as the preseason No. 1-ranked team in the land and won five straight until a 76-71 loss to then No. 5-ranked Duke in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 24. U of L has been without the services of starting 6-foot-10 center Gorgui Dieng, who has missed the last two games with an injured left wrist. The Cardinals currently rank No. 29 nationally in scoring offense (85.7), No. 24 in scoring defense (56.1), No. 23 in rebound margin (+8.4), No. 9 in steals per game (11.1 avg.) and No. 8 in turnover margin (7.3). They are led in scoring by junior guard Russ Smith, who is averaging 19.9 points per game which ranks 32nd best in the country. Last year, U of L lost to in-state rival Kentucky for a spot in the national championship game in New Orleans, La.
BATTLE OF THE GUARDS
Two of the nation's top point guards and probable candidates for the 2013 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award will be on hand on Tuesday in College of Charleston's Andrew Lawrence and Louisville's Peyton Siva. Lawrence competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games and helped Great Britain to its first-ever Olympic win over China. The preseason All-Southern Conference Team selection finished his junior campaign ranked No. 31 nationally in assists per game (5.5 avg) and is currently the team's assists leader (26). Meanwhile, Siva currently ranks No. 25 in the country in assists per game (6.0 avg.) and No. 29 in steals per game (2.6 avg).
PROJECTED COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON STARTERS
#22 Anthony Stitt, G, 6-1, 180, So. (10.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.4 apg, 32.4 min)
#4 Andrew Lawrence, G, 6-1, 185, Sr. (14.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.3 apg, 27.8 min)
#3 Anthony Thomas, F, 6-7, 207, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 30.9 min)
#53 Willis Hall, F, 6-6, 235, RS-Jr. (8.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 21.0 min)
#1 Adjehi Baru, F, 6-9, 225, So. (7.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 0.6 apg, 33.4 min)
PROJECTED LOUISVILLE STARTERS
#3 Peyton Siva, G, 6-0, 185, Sr. (11.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 6.0 apg, 30.4 min)
#2 Russ Smith, G, 6-0, 165, Jr. (19.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 29.4 min)
#21 Wayne Blackshear, F, 6-5, 230, So. (7.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 19.9 min)
#20 Chane Behanan, F, 6-6, 250, So. (9.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 25.1 min)
#25 Zach Price, C, 6-10, 250, So. (0.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.0 apg, 8.8 min)
Louisville leads 2-0 in the all-time series with College of Charleston. The Cardinals claimed a 78-63 win in both team's first meeting in the Billy Minardi Classic under former head coach Tom Herrion on Dec. 30, 2005 in Louisville, Ky. Last season, Louisville escaped with a 69-62 victory over CofC in a down-to-the-wire game that saw the lead change 10 times at the KFC Yum! Center on Dec. 20, 2011. The Cougars led 37-33 at halftime, but were outscored by the Cardinals in the second half.
AGAINST THE TOP 10
The Cougars are 3-5 all-time against opponents ranked in the top 10 and 1-2 all-time against opponents ranked in the top 5. Tuesday's game against Louisville will mark the program's ninth meeting versus a top 10 foe and fourth all-time in the top 5. It will also be the third time the Cougars will go up against a Rick Pitino-led top 10 squad with a 92-65 loss to No. 8-ranked Kentucky in the Great Alaska Shootout on Nov. 30, 1996 in Anchorage, Alaska. CofC's first-ever top 10 win was ironically an 84-67 upset at No. 8 Georgia Tech under legendary head coach John Kresse against former CofC head coach Bobby Cremins. The program's biggest win to date was a 66-64 upset of No. 3 North Carolina in the Food Lion MVP Classic on Dec. 5, 1998 in Charlotte, N.C., during the last season in which the Cougars reached the NCAA Tournament.
COFC ALL-TIME vs. TOP 10 OPPONENTS (3-5)
College of Charleston 84, No. 8 Georgia Tech 67 on Jan. 16, 1993 in Atlanta, Ga.
No. 7 UConn 77, College of Charleston 60 on Dec. 27, 1995 in North Charleston, S.C.
No. 8 Kentucky 92, College of Charleston 65 on Nov. 30, 1996 in Anchorage, Alaska
College of Charleston 66, No. 3 North Carolina 64 on Dec. 5, 1998 in Charlotte, N.C.
No. 2 North Carolina 72, College of Charleston 54 on Dec. 3, 1999 in Charlotte, N.C.
No. 9 Tennessee 86, College of Charleston 69 on Nov. 27, 2009 in Knoxville, Tenn.
College of Charleston 82, No. 9 North Carolina on Jan. 4, 2010 in Charleston, S.C.
No. 4 Louisville 69, College of Charleston 62 on Dec. 20, 2011 in Louisville, Ky.
AGAINST THE BIG EAST
CofC is 0-8 all-time versus schools hailing from the BIG EAST Conference including past meetings with Georgetown (0-1), Louisville (0-2), Providence (0-2), Syracuse (0-1), Villanova (0-1) and St. John's (0-1). Two of the Cougars' last four outcomes against a BIG EAST opponent were decided by seven points or less including a 69-62 (-7) setback at then No. 4-ranked Louisville on Dec. 20, 2011 and a close 69-64 decision (-5) at Providence in the NIT Second Round on March 22, 2003.
• Coach Wojcik is 0-1 all-time against BIG EAST opponents in his eight years as a Division I head coach. His first meeting was CofC's opening-round game against St. John's (L, 53-64) in the ESPN Charleston Classic on Nov. 15 at TD Arena.
• CofC returns only six of the nine players who played at Louisville last season including Matt Sundberg (nine points and career-high nine rebounds), Anthony Stitt (eight points), Adjehi Baru (eight points and eight rebounds), Andrew Lawrence (six points and seven assists), Trent Wiedeman (four points and six rebounds) and Nori Johnson (three minutes).
• Rick Pitino's son, Richard, is currently the head coach at Florida International and previously served as an administrative assistant in Charleston to former CofC head coach Tom Herrion during the 2004-05 season, before moving on to assistant coaching positions at Northeastern, Duquesne, Louisville and Florida. Pitino's youngest daughter, Jacqueline, is currently a sophomore majoring in early childhood education at CofC.
CofC 56, Elon 54
• For the fourth time this season and fourth-straight contest, the Cougars used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, junior Willis Hall and sophomore Adjehi Baru (4-0).
• With the win, the Cougars improved to 12-5 in the all-time series with Elon. They have won five of the last six meetings between the two schools. It also marked CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik's first career Southern Conference win.
• CofC is now 12-3 all-time in its SoCon openers since joining the league in 1998.
• Willis Hall registered his third career double-double with a game-and season-high 19 points and 12 rebounds. It also marked his fifth career double-figure rebounding game.
• Andrew Lawrence knocked down two of the team's four three-pointers in the game to move into ninth all-time in career three-pointers ahead of former CofC player Thomas Mobley (158) with 160 career treys to date.
• The Cougars have now won three road games in a row for the first time since the 2009-10 season when opening up league play on the road at The Citadel on Jan. 9, 2010, at Samford on Jan. 14, 2010 and at Chattanooga on Jan. 16, 2010.
• For the seventh consecutive contest, CofC won the battle of the boards, 35-31 (+4).
• The CofC defense held Elon to its second-lowest shooting percentage of the season from the field (34.5%).
The Cougars are now 4-1 on the season when games are decided by five points or less.
COUGAR SOUND BITES
"We are excited for the game against Louisville. Since we had the ESPN Charleston Classic and students had to pay to come to the games, I will get to see what Cougar Basketball is all about with the students here, especially with final exams starting on Wednesday. It's a quick turnaround for us, but we will find a way. It is two weeks since we played at home against Boston College. It's good to be back and we are at home for most of the month of December now. We have some great opportunities in this home stretch. We are practicing to get better in our execution and turnover wise. It's a great opportunity to play Louisville - a Final Four and BIG EAST team. I appreciate the fact that Coach Cremins was able to schedule these games, especially with Louisville. It's a real feather in our cap as a college. Offensively, they are very aggressive and will attack you in transition. It's coming at a great time for us with the way we are playing and our confidence level."- CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik on returning home to play Louisville
"It's always incredible to go on the road and to win consecutively. We didn't just take a short road trip. We went halfway across the country to Texas. When you make a road trip and beat a team like Baylor, in their own arena, you create a huge bond and create a lot of momentum for your team. I'm really proud of all of our guys for staying together and keeping it rolling." - Redshirt Junior Forward Willis Hall on the team's current four-game win streak and 3-0 record on the road
"We take one game at a time, but we will be prepared for Louisville. I can tell you, we will do our best to bring it. The effort will be there, like it always is. We struggled at Elon a little bit, but our effort was there and we were able to pull it out in the end. We will continue to work hard and build on what we have going right now. It will be a great atmosphere at TD Arena on Tuesday night and we are looking forward to the rematch." - Hall on returning home to play Louisville
"It's a big time game. A lot of people were talking about the game in class on campus today. We are really excited to have a chance to play Louisville at home. Anytime you can have a ranked opponent come into your house, it's a big-time experience and it will be a big-time environment tomorrow night at TD Arena." - Senior Point Guard Andrew Lawrence on playing a top 5 opponent on CofC's own home court
"We played really hard against Elon and it was a good win for us going into the Louisville game. We did what we were supposed to do offensively and defensively. We were ready and prepared for those three road games (at Baylor, Charleston Southern and Elon). It will be an exciting game on Tuesday night. We can't wait to play at home again and I can't wait to match-up against their post players." - Sophomore forward Adjehi Baru on going into the Louisville game with confidence from the team's tough, three-game road stretch