Cardinals seek redemption in clash with 49ers

Dec 30, 2014 - 3:35 PM Louisville, KY ( - Coming off their first loss of the season, the fifth-ranked Louisville Cardinals seek some perspective, as they close out a three-game homestand on Tuesday against the travel-weary Long Beach State 49ers.

Dan Monson's 49ers are a well-traveled team, as they have played eight true road games already this season. Unfortunately, Long Beach State is still seeking its first road win on the year and that includes losses in the first five games of this current six-game road trip. It has been a gauntlet that has included powerhouses San Diego State, Texas, St. John's and most recently, Syracuse. LBSU was no match for the Orange on Sunday, falling to 5-9 on the year with an 85-67 setback.

Rick Pitino's Cardinals had their opportunity to knock of the reigning No. 1 team in the land over the weekend, but Louisville came up short against arch- rival Kentucky, losing for the first time in 12 games, with a 58-50 loss at home to the Wildcats. This marks the team's final non-conference game of the season, as it embarks on its first season in the ACC after the New Year.

This marks just the second time these two teams have met. The first came in 2011, as Louisville earned a 79-66 victory at home.

Long Beach State placed four players in double figures, but it just wasn't enough, as the 49ers were unable to keep pace with the Orange, who shot a ridiculous .577 from the floor over the weekend. Eric McKnight, Tyler Lamb and Mike Caffey all tied for team-high honors with 14 points apiece. David Samuels checked in with 13 points for LBSU, which turned the ball over 15 costly times, resulting in 24 points for Syracuse. The Orange also outscored Long Beach State 18-7 at the free-throw line.

A -5.4 scoring margin is the main reason for Long Beach State's sub-par season to date. Caffey has certainly done his part as the senior guard is shooting just under 50 percent from the floor (.492) and putting up 17.6 ppg. He is also tops on the team in assists (3.8 apg) and steals (26). Lamb is a distant second in the scoring column at 10.6 ppg, with little scoring depth behind him. Samuels is third at just 7.9 ppg, but does grab a team-best 5.3 rpg.

The Cardinals were in the game to the very end against Kentucky, employing their own brand of stingy defense, but unfortunately, they were unable to solve the Wildcats' defensive scheme, en route to an ugly .259 shooting performance. Terry Rozier led the team in defeat with 15 points. Chris Jones finished with 13 points, while Wayne Blackshear chipped in with 10. However, All-America candidate Montrezl Harrell was contained, as the star forward finished with just nine points and eight rebounds in the loss.

On the season, the numbers are still impressive for Louisville at both ends of the floor, resulting in a +20.3 scoring margin. The team is averaging 75.0 ppg, while limiting foes to just 54.7 on just .349 shooting. Rozier and Harrell have been a potent one-two punch, averaging 16.6 and 16.0 ppg, respectively. One of the nation's premier players, Harrell is also a strong rebounder, grabbing a team-high 9.8 rpg. Blackshear (13.4 ppg) adds frontcourt depth, while Jones (12.3 ppg) does the same in the backcourt.

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