Fourth-ranked Cardinals set sights on Seahawks

Dec 14, 2014 - 3:49 PM Louisville, KY ( - The fourth-ranked Louisville Cardinals continue their quest for perfection, as they welcome the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks to the KFC Yum! Center on Sunday for a non-conference matchup.

First-year head coach Kevin Keatts is no stranger to Louisville, as he was a former associate head coach with the Cardinals under Rick Pitino for three years before taking the job with the Seahawks. UNCW hasn't been real busy in the early going, as this contest represents only its sixth game of the year. The team is sitting at 3-2 overall and well rested, entering off a 105-47 blasting of St. Andrews back on Dec. 3.

Pitino's Cardinals have been much more active, as this is the ninth game on the season. Louisville is a flawless 8-0 to this point, keeping its streak going with a rather easy win over Indiana (94-74) last week as part of the Jimmy V. Classic in New York City.

This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

The competition hasn't exactly been stellar, but UNCW has eclipsed the 100- point mark in two of its last three games and now averages 80.8 ppg on the year. Strong shooting has been the key, with the Seahawks converting 52.3 percent of the time from the floor, including a solid 43.2 percent from beyond the arc. Five players are averaging double figures, led by Freddie Jackson's 18.0 ppg. Addison Spruill is next in line at 14.0 ppg, followed by Craig Ponder (12.0 ppg), Cedrick Williams (11.4 ppg) and Dylan Sherwood (10.0 ppg).

Sherwood didn't play against St. Andrews due to an ankle injury, but he wasn't really needed in the rout of the Knights. UNCW set a school record for the most lopsided win in school history thanks to a scorching .703 shooting effort against St. Andrews. Jackson led the charge with a career-high 33 points. Spruill added 13 points, while Malik Pugh and Craig Ponder checked in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Louisville has dominated at both ends of the floor this season and as a result, ranks third nationally with a +25.9 scoring margin. The team is averaging 78.2 ppg, while limiting the opposition to just 52.4. The Cards are also fourth in the nation in steals (11.3 per game) and seventh in rebounding margin (+11.5). Star forward Montrezl Harrell is playing at an All-America level, leading the team in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.6 rpg). He gets plenty of help at the offensive end, as guards Terry Rozier (14.6 ppg) and Chris Jones (13.3 ppg) and forward Wayne Blackshear (13.0 ppg) all make sizable contributions.

A close game got out of hand in the second half, as Louisville inflated a five-point halftime lead (46-41) into a 20-point romp over a solid Indiana squad at Madison Square Garden last week. Three Cardinals posted over 20 points in the win, led by Rozier's 26 points. Jones just missed a double- double with 24 points and nine rebounds, but Harrell was able to complete the feat, finishing the game with 21 points and 11 boards.

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