Louisville Cardinals at Connecticut Huskies, Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, CT
Saturday, January 29, 2011, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN3
Opening Line: UConn -3
Current Line: UConn -4
Opening Total: 144
Current Total: 143.5
Money Line: UConn -175 / Louisville +155
The fifth-ranked Connecticut Huskies (17-2, 5-2 Big East) are the hottest team in the conference heading into Saturday’s meeting with the 23rd-ranked Louisville Cardinals (16-4, 5-2). Ironically, the star player for UConn (-3) has not been at his best lately even though his team has thrived. Kemba Walker is coming off his two lowest point totals of the season but hopes to bounce back and lead the Huskies to their seventh victory in a row.
Walker is still averaging 24.4 points per game, but he scored just 14 on 5 of 16 shooting in a 76-68 win at Marquette on Tuesday. That followed a 16-point performance in a 72-61 home win over Tennessee last Saturday. The good news is that he put together two of his top three best games passing the ball, dishing out 16 assists combined in the last two games.
Connecticut has done an outstanding job defensively during the winning streak, keeping the last five opponents under 70 points with the UNDER cashing in each of those games. That might not seem overly impressive, but the Cardinals averaged 80 points in beating the Huskies twice last season. Louisville was able to bomb away from 3-point range against UConn last year, shooting 43.5 percent from beyond the arc and sinking 10 from deep in each of the meetings.
The Huskies have improved in defending the 3-pointer in their last six games, limiting the opposition to 28.7 percent shooting, down from 35.7 percent prior to that recent stretch. The Cardinals are shooting nearly 41 percent from 3-point range on the road this season but have also allowed their opponents to do the same.
Louisville struggled to hold off a depleted West Virginia team 55-54 on Wednesday, as Peyton Siva’s layup with four seconds remaining beat a team that saw just seven players take the court. The Mountaineers went almost 14 minutes without scoring after building a 37-26 halftime lead. The Cardinals almost lost consecutive games for the first time this season following a 72-67 setback at Providence last Saturday. They have lost their last two Big East road games and have failed to cover four of five overall.
The UNDER is 3-1 in Louisville’s last four games overall, but the OVER cashed in both meetings with Connecticut a year ago. Unlike the Huskies, the Cardinals have not played great defense recently, giving up 70 points or more in four of their last six games, including three on the road.
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