Louisville Hosts Nicholls in Season Opener
By Louisville Athletics
LOUISVILLE - Louisville will open its 2018-19 season -- its 105th for UofL -- as the Cardinals face the Nicholls State University Colonels on Thursday. It will mark the earliest season opener in UofL history. UofL won its two exhibition contests against a pair of opponents from within Louisville, prevailing 71-60 over NCAA Division II top-ranked Bellarmine on Oct. 28; and beating Simmons College of Kentucky 90-41 last Saturday. The Cardinals held the two teams to a combined 27.5 percent shooting from the field (30-109).
UofL, which posted a 22-14 record last season, is entering a new era under the direction of Coach Chris Mack, who guided Xavier to a 215-97 record and eight NCAA Tournament appearances in nine seasons. While the Cardinals return eight letterman from last year's unit, junior V.J. King is the Cardinals' lone returning starter. King was a starter at shooting guard in all 36 games for the Cardinals last season, scoring in double figures in 14 games, including seven of the last 16 and nine of the last 20.
Louisville returns 39 percent of its scoring from its 2017-18 squad (1074 of 2721 points), 36 percent of its rebounding (478 of 1316), 35 percent of its assists (169 of 489) and 43 percent of the total minutes played (3133 of 7300).
After posting a 21-11 record last season, Louisville is the first of a five-game road stretch for Nicholls. The Colonels beat Mississippi College 86-58 behind 28 points from Jackson State graduate transfer Jeremiah Johnson and 20 points and eight rebounds from Central Michigan graduate transfer Gavin Peters. Nicholls gathered 15 steals in the game and forced Mississippi College into 24 turnovers.
Last season, the Colonels were No. 184 in the KenPom rankings and No. 213 in the Sagarin ratings. Redshirt junior guard D'Angelo Hunter is a Louisville native and attended Pleasure Ridge Park High School. Austin Claunch is in his first year as a head coach after serving two seasons as an assistant coach at Nicholls for two seasons and takes over for Richie Riley, who moved on to South Alabama after two seasons. Claunch was an assistant at Clemson (2015-16) in UofL's second year in the ACC and was a graduate manager for the Tigers for two years (2013-15).
UofL has a 5-0 record against current members of the Southland Conference, having previously faced just two of its members (Lamar 4-0, Northwestern State 1-0). In its last matchup against a Southland Conference team, Louisville beat Lamar 68-48 in the second game of the 2011-12 season (11-13-11). The Cardinals will play another Southland Conference opponent later this season, facing Central Arkansas on Dec. 5.

Published 06:07 AM, Thursday Nov. 08, 2018
Updated 06:09 AM, Thursday Nov. 08, 2018

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