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Cardinals ready for return to the court after COVID cancellations, face Syracuse Wednesday in Louisville

After a 16-day break for COVID-related issues and having four games postponed, Louisville plays its second straight at home in the KFC Yum! Center as the Cardinals face the Syracuse Orange on Wednesday.

In its last game on Feb. 1, Louisville beat Georgia Tech 74-58 in the KFC Yum! Center as two Cardinals produced double-doubles in David Johnson with 10 rebounds and a career-high 24 points, and Samuell Williamson with career-bests of 20 points and 18 rebounds. UofL gathered a season-high 56 rebounds — including 20 off the offensive glass — the most by a UofL team in six years.

Louisville guard Samuell Williamson (Photo by Adam Creech, Louisville Athletics)

The Orange (12-6, 6-5 ACC) have won three of their last four and five of their last seven, including a 75-67 home victory over Boston College on Feb. 13 in their last game as Joseph Girard’s 16 points led all five Syracuse starters in double figures. Louisville had made the trip to play Syracuse on Feb. 3, but the game was the first of four Cardinals games postponed for COVID-19 issues.

Syracuse is among the nation’s top 25 statistically in free throw percentage (.790, 8th in the nation), steals (9.2, 10th), blocked shots (4.9, 22nd), and personal fouls per game (14.7, 13th). The Orange, with all five starters averaging scoring in double figures, lead the ACC in steals and three-point field goal percentage defense (.297), and rank second in scoring offense (76.6), assists, blocked shots and free throw percentage. Syracuse is No. 47 in the Sagarin Ratings, No. 52 in the NET rankings, No. 29 in ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index (BPI) and No. 57 by Ken Pomeroy through Feb. 14.

Louisville leads 19-10 in its series vs. Syracuse, winning six of the last nine. In last year’s matchup, the Cardinals prevailed 90-66 (2-19-20) as UofL made 10-of-24 threes and held a 45-36 rebounding advantage. Five Cardinals scored in double figures, led by Jordan Nwora’s 17 points, while Malik Williams produced his fifth career double-double (14 pts.,13 reb.).

The Cardinals’ latest pause in team-related activities due to COVID-19 issues was the second of the season and lasted 16 days between games. It is its longest in-season stretch without a game in 54 years. After its Feb. 1 victory over Georgia Tech, UofL practiced on Feb. 2 before traveling to Syracuse. That evening, test results revealed a positive test that affected several more through contact tracing. Additional positive tests in ensuing days kept the Cards out of practice until a return of some team members on Feb. 12.

In early December, UofL paused due to a positive COVID-19 test and accompanying contact tracing measures among “Tier 1” individuals within the program. UofL paused on Dec. 3, cancelled its Dec. 4 game against UNC Greensboro, postponed its Dec. 16 game vs. NC State, and postponed its Dec. 9 Wisconsin game to play on Dec. 19. The Cardinals returned to team practice on Dec. 12.

From Univesity of Louisville Athletics

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