What UVA Basketball fans need to know about Louisville

LouisvilleLouisville trailed Wake Forest by 15 late in the first half. You didn’t seriously doubt that the Cardinals would come back.

Virginia may wish that the Demon Deacons hadn’t jumped out to that big lead, which forced Louisville (20-3, 11-1 ACC) to shake itself out of its doldrums.

In a flash, the Cards turned up the defensive intensity – holding Wake to 30 percent shooting in the second half, after the Deacs had shot a blistering 60 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.

Louisville also attacked the hell out of the paint – getting to the line 29 times in the second half, after getting just two charity tosses in the opening 20.

So, what Chris Mack got for his trouble last night was something to use to remind his team to attack defensively, attack the paint.

Yeah, that rocks, heading into Saturday in the Yum! Center.

Get to know Louisville

Jordan Nwora (19.3 ppg, 7.4 rebs/g, 46.2% FG, 43.7% 3FG) is the dude here.

The 6’7” junior will remind you of De’Andre Hunter, though actually, he gets to the rim a little less frequently (24.9 percent, compared to Hunter’s 34.8 percent in 2018-2019, per Hoop-Math.com).

The three-point numbers are similar (Hunter shot 43.8 percent from three a year ago), and the athleticism of the two, also similar.

Nwora can have issues against good defensive teams. Kentucky (KenPom.com defensive rating: 59) held him to eight points on 2-of-10 shooting from the floor in a UK win on Dec. 28, and Duke (KenPom.com defensive rating: 9) held him to six on 3-of-12 shooting in a UL win back on Jan. 18.

Texas Tech might compare most favorably to what Virginia will try with Nwora, and he also struggled in a matchup with the Red Raiders back on Dec. 10, shooting 4-of-16 in a 70-57 Texas Tech win.

Steven Enoch, a 6’10” senior, can be a beast in the post (10.3 ppg, 6.1 rebs/g, 52.0% FG), but Enoch is only getting 21.2 minutes per game, so he’s a guy who Mack thinks is at his best in spurts.

Mack prefers to go four-guard around Enoch and 6’11” junior Malik Williams (7.8 ppg, 6.2 rebs/g, 48.5% FG), who conveniently averages 18.4 minutes a game, basically the minutes that Enoch isn’t on the floor.

The bulk of the game will be played with Nwora at stretch four. The starter at the point is 6’0” senior Lamarr Kimble (5.1 ppg, 3.0 assists/g, 37.6% FG, 35.9% 3FG), with 6’0” senior Ryan McMahon (8.8 ppg, 43.8% FG, 46.0% 3FG) getting minutes at the one and two, along with 6’2” junior Darius Perry (6.0 ppg, 40.8% FG, 39.3% 3FG) and 6’5” freshman David Johnson (5.3 ppg, 50.6% FG, 40.0% 3FG).

Dwayne Sutton (9.1 ppg, 8.5 rebs/g, 50.7% FG, 36.2% 3FG) is the three, though he will slide over to the four for the six or seven minutes that Nwora is getting a blow.

When that is the case, the minutes at the three go to 6’7” freshman Samuel Williamson (4.6 ppg, 48.9% FG, 35.0% 3FG).

How Virginia matches up

Jay Huff (8.5 ppg, 6.2 rebs/g, 59.1% FG, 30.0% 3FG) got 36 minutes in the win over Clemson on Wednesday, and more than held his own guarding Tigers stretch-four Aamir Simms, but it’s a stretch to see Huff getting minutes trying to check Nwora.

Tony Bennett might go to Mamadi Diakite (13.5 ppg, 7.0 rebs/g, 47.7% FG, 40.5% 3FG) on Nwora, and he also has the option of swiss-army knife Braxton Key (10.7 ppg, 7.4 rebs/g, 42.9% FG, 23.5% 3FG), who also should see a fair shade of time in the jersey of Sutton.

The sluggish Virginia offense is at its relative best when those three guys are on the floor together, so as long as the defensive side of things work out, then, good.

The backcourt matchups feel favorable for Virginia. A key will be keeping McMahon from getting open looks when he’s at the two.

Expect to see more minutes for freshman Casey Morsell (4.2 ppg, 25.2% FG, 14.1% 3FG) opposite McMahon when the senior is at the two.

The important thing will be making Nwora work for his points, as Duke, Kentucky and Texas Tech were able to do.

Story by Chris Graham


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