Time: 6:05 p.m. ET
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) February 27, 2021
Vegas Line: Duke -5.0, t140.5
The Louisville men’s basketball team is on the road Saturday night for a matchup with the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Louisville improved its record to 12-5 on Tuesday with a win over Notre Dame at home. Duke comes in at 11-8 having won four straight games.
Louisville beat Duke at home last month 70-65 in a game that went back and forth the entire way. The Cards struggled offensively most of the day and were carried by a 24-point performance from Carlik Jones. It looked like Matthew Hurt was on his way to a career night before David Johnson was switched onto him early in the second half. Hurt had 20 points with more than 18 minutes on the clock, but only finished with 24. Jones and Jae’Lyn Withers scored 29 of Louisville’s 34 second half points and were the only Cardinal scorers in the final 9:48 of the game.
A lot has changed since that first matchup at the Yum! Center. Louisville has only played four times in the five weeks since. Meanwhile, Duke has won four straight games and looks like a completely different team since its star freshmen Jalen Johnson opted out of the season. Matthew Hurt is averaging 20.8 points during the streak, but backcourt consistency has been a real game changer for the Blue Devils. DJ Steward has emerged as a reliable second option and Jeremy Roach has done well playing beside him. Mark Williams, who did not play in the first game at Louisville, has been on a tear inside should be a big test for Jae’Lyn Withers.
Louisville responded fairly well to is blowout loss to UNC last weekend with an overall team performance against Notre Dame. Without David Johnson, a few guys stepped up in help of Carlik Jones. Five Cards scored in double figures.
The key on Saturday will be on the offensive end for Louisville. The last matchup was a defensive battle and Carlik Jones carried the team on his back during the entire second half. The defensive effort on Matthew Hurt was heroic from David Johnson, but you cannot expect to shut him down like that twice. Louisville is going to have to hold onto the ball and make some three-pointers. This Duke team is rolling, and its likely that the Cards will need to keep up with them on the road. Expect a faster paced game in Durham compared to the one we saw last month.
Duke has played itself right back into the NCAA tournament conversation and will be looking to get another quadrant-1 win it can add to the resume. Louisville is probably safe as of now, but getting its first quad-1 win at Duke would probably put them safely in the field with two weeks until Selection Sunday. The Cards have three tough matchups to finish the season, and they are in desperate need of a big win. A victory on Saturday would be a great start.
Louisville 78 Duke 75