LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For the first time this season, the University of Louisville basketball team will take the floor as a ranked team when #21 NC State visits the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday night. The Cards enter the game ranked 23rd. The first time they’ve cracked the top 25 since they were ranked 17th on November 27, 2017.
The Wolfpack, coached by former U of L assistant, Kevin Keatts come into the game with a 15-3 record. The Pack have been monsters on the boards all season.
They’re ranked second in the conference and 10th nationally in rebounding margin. “They’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and I just think it speaks to the type of a personality that Coach Keatts wants his team to play with," said U of L head coach, Chris Mack. Sophomore point guard and Kentucky native, Braxton Beverly comes into the game averaging nine points and three assists a game. Last year as a freshman, he had the best assist-to-turnover ratio for a freshman in ACC history. “He’s also a guy that isn’t afraid of the moment. Big shots, the ball finds him and he finds the net,” said Mack.
The Cards come into the game riding a three game win streak, including Saturday’s 79-51 win at Georgia Tech. In that game, senior point guard, Christen Cunningham became just the third U of L player in 47 years to dish out 11 assists without a turnover. Cunnigham says while it’s cool for the Cards to be ranked again, it could all go away with just one bad game. “We realize if we lose we’ll probably be unranked again,” said Cunningham. While the team is excited about the ranking, the head coach is not. “I certainly hope no one on our team feels like we’ve arrived cause we’ll get sent one of those fat l’s real quick if that’s how we feel,” said Mack. With a win on Thursday night, the Cards would remain in a possible five way tie for first in the ACC. Something the team is reminded of everyday in the locker room. “As a player, I just sort of always wanted to know where I stood. So, that’s sort of how I coach my team. We have a standings board back there,” said Mack. “We look at the standings everyday. They’re posted and updated in our locker room daily, but at the same time, we focus more on the week and the game in front of us,” said Cunningham.
NC State’s second leading scorer and assist leader, Markell Johnson suffered an injury, and it’s not known if he will play on Thursday night. The Cards say they are preparing as if he will be in the lineup. You can see #21 NC State at #23 UofL on Wave 3 News.