WKU set to welcome No. 4 Louisville to Diddle Arena on Saturday

The WKU men’s basketball team huddles before the start of their Nov. 15 game against Austin Peay. The Hilltoppers defeated the Governors 77-70. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Billy Rutledge

WKU basketball will welcome the fourth-ranked Louisville Cardinals to Diddle Arena at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday in the second of a seven-game homestand. The Hilltoppers (5-4) have won nine of their past 11 home games and four of their last five overall after starting the season 1-3.

The Cardinals (9-0) are the highest-ranked opponent to visit Diddle Arena since No. 2 Georgetown in 1982, a game won by the Hoyas in overtime, 70-66.

Senior guard T.J. Price comes into Saturday’s game at a blistering pace. In the past three WKU wins, Price has totaled 76 points (25.3 points per game) and has reached three consecutive 20-point games for the first time in his career. WKU is currently riding a three-game win streak, but that mark is in jeopardy with the defensive-minded Cardinals coming to town.

Louisville will play on the road for the first true time this season as its previous contests come from playing at the KFC Yum! Center or on a neutral court. Louisville has won 22 of the last 25 games against the Hilltoppers including five straight since WKU’s last win in 2008.

“With Louisville, it’s one of those things that you have to be mentally prepared as well as physically prepared,” Sophomore guard Chris Harrison-Docks said. “They’re a team that goes on such quick runs, that if you relax for one second, you know they could be up ten.”

Louisville comes into Saturday’s matchup with four players averaging over 12 points per game including junior forward Montrezl Harrell, who averages 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. At the beginning of the year, Harrell was named to the First-team All-ACC team, he has now won two ACC Player of the Week awards and last week’s National Player of the Week honor from CBSSports.com.

“They’re not one of the best defensive teams in their conference, they’re one of the best defensive teams in the country,” Head Coach Ray Harper said. “They’re relentless…We’re going to have to have a lot of different guys play well. It can’t be one or two guys.”

Louisville Head coach Rick Pitino has some experience playing against the Hilltoppers. In his 14 years of coaching the Cardinals, Pitino is 6-1 against the Hilltoppers, his lone loss coming in 2008 when WKU defeated the Cardinals 68-54 in Nashville.

“We just have to give our best not just for us but for the fans, too,” Price said. “Pretty sure it’s going to be a packed crowd, so we just have to come out with energy, and we should be fine.”

The Hilltoppers and the Cardinals will meet the for a seventh-straight year and for the 78th time as WKU leads the all-time series 39-38. Saturday’s matchup at Diddle Arena is a sellout and will be played at 11 a.m. CT. It will be the first time Louisville has visited Bowling Green since 2010.