Louisville and Western Kentucky will look to put the bad blood of last season’s meeting behind them today as the No. 19 Cardinals host their intrastate rival the Hilltoppers.
WKU (6-4) will take on Louisville (8-1) at noon today at the KFC Yum! Center. The in-state showdown will air nationally on ESPNU.
The Cardinals took on WKU in Bowling Green last year and nearly came to blows with the Hilltoppers midway through the first half. Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell, now with the NBA’s Houston Rockets, threw a punch at then-WKU forward Avery Patterson after making contact with several Hilltopper players following a hard foul. Harrell was ejected from the game and suspended from Louisville’s next contest, though the Cardinals went on to top Western 76-67 in front of a wild crowd at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Patterson and Harrell each moved on from their respective programs this summer, and several players that were involved in last year’s near-brawl will not be in attendance today either. But Louisville coach Rick Pitino and WKU coach Ray Harper, who had a heated exchange after Harrell was ejected, will be on the sidelines looking to lead their teams to a big December win.
WKU sophomore power forward Justin Johnson has had a breakout start to the season. He currently leads the Hilltoppers in both points per game (17.2) and rebounds per game (8.4). Senior forward Nigel Snipes has been a threat off the bench and is averaging 12.7 points per game, while junior center Ben Lawson has been a threat under the basket, averaging 2.4 blocks per game so far this year.
Louisville, meanwhile, has been led by a pair of fifth-year seniors playing just one season with the Cardinals. Smooth-shooting forward Damion Lee leads the team at 18.7 points per game, along with 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals a night. Guard Trey Lewis, meanwhile, has spent time at every position in the Louisville backcourt and averages 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists.
Sophomore point guard Quentin Snider has stepped up for the Cardinals early this year as well, averaging 9.8 points and a team-high 4.8 assists per game. Sophomore center Chinanu Onuaku is also averaging 9.8 points a night along with 7.0 rebounds.
WKU at Louisville
When: Noon Saturday
Where: KFC Yum Center, Louisville
Records: WKU 6-4; Louisville 8-1