SCOUTING VANDERBILT: No. 20 Vanderbilt enters off an 82-70 overtime loss at home against No. 11 Xavier. The Commodores were a preseason top 10 pick but have labored without Festus Ezeli. The 6-11 senior center from Nigeria averaged 13 points and six rebounds a game last year but has yet to play this season due to suspension and a sprained knee. Vandy also fell 71-58 at home to Cleveland State in their second game of the season.
John Jenkins has picked up the slack and enters as the SEC’s leading scorer at 20.2 points a contest. Rick Pitino calls the junior guard “one of the nation’s most explosive three point shooters.” Four seniors, three of which average double figures a night, join him in Vandy’s veteran starting lineup.
OH NOSE: Pitino said Thursday that he will again be without backup point guard Elisha “Bullet” Justice who missed Long Beach State game after breaking his nose in practice.
DEFENSIVE DRIVING: Pitino has preached that his injury-riddled team must win with defense and they’ve clearly listened. Louisville’s multiple looks, keyed by a matchup zone, have held opponents to just 49.3 points a game, third best in the nation.
NOT IN HIS HOUSE: Louisville sophomore Gorgui Dieng ranks 10th nationally and leads the Big East with three blocks a game. He has multiple blocks in 17 of his 35 collegiate games.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “There’ll be no taking turns. I’m going to check him pretty much the whole game.”
– Senior guard Chris Smith on guarding Vanderbilt’s top scorer, John Jenkins.
PREDICTION TWEET: Siva stars as Cards smother Jenkins, force other 'Dores to produce. UofL holds off Vandy 72-65, running record to 7-0.
Photo: Courtesy University of Louisville Cardinals