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    University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino is hoping that the home crowd for Tuesday night’s game against Ohio State will be animated.

    They’ll probably also have to be caffeinated too. Some fans may even be inebriated (wink, wink).

    The Cardinals (5-0), who are No. 5 in both national polls, host the Buckeyes (who are No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25) at 9:30 p.m. (go ahead and tell work you’ll be late Wednesday morning) at the KFC Yum! Center in one of the marquee matchups of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

    “We’ve had a lot of big games at the Yum!, tomorrow will be the best atmosphere that we’ve had since the Yum! Center’s been built,” Pitino said Monday at his weekly press conference. “There’s a lot of reasons for that. We have a great opponent coming in here. If you look at their statistics it’s about as good as it gets offensively. It’s the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, national television, last game (of the night), (our) first year in the ACC, coming off a great football victory, the spirit’s very high in this town and it’ll be a great atmosphere.”

    Part of those comments are typical Pitino hyperbole, likely in hopes that a raucous crowd shows up after the fodder that was UofL’s first four home foes (Jacksonville State, Marshall, Savannah State and Cleveland State). But part of those comments are also the truth. The Buckeyes (5-0) enter averaging 87.2 points per game - which ranks ninth nationally; shooting 56.7 percent - which ranks No. 2 nationally; and dishing out 19.4 assists per game - which ranks No. 6 nationally.

    “Like I always say, if you’re a great passing team, you’re going to shoot a pretty good percentage,” said Pitino, who is coming off his 700th college victory. “They average 18 or 19 assists per game. Generally great shooters stem from great passers, and they’re a great passing team. They’re one of the better offensive basketball teams in the country. You can say maybe they haven’t played a tough schedule yet, but we haven’t played a tough schedule yet either. (And) our statistics are not good on the offensive end.”

    To make things even more interesting is the fact that Ohio State is led by freshman guard D’Angelo Russell, a Louisville native. Russell, who attended Central High School as a freshman before transferring to Montverde Academy in Florida, paces the Buckeyes with a 18-point-per-game scoring average.

    “We wanted him, obviously, (but) he chose the right place because he can go and start for them and play a lot of minutes,” Pitino said. “He’s playing great basketball. I always loved D’Angelo. He can pass. He can handle. He can shoot (and), go one-on-one. We wanted him very much here.”

    Five keys for the Cards: 1. Staying out of foul trouble, which will be vital in every game this season. 2. Containing Ohio State point guard Shannon Scott, who averages 10.4 assists per game. 3. Getting some production from their bench, which combined for 0 points in 23 minutes in last week’s win over Cleveland State. 4. Three-point shooting and defense against. Ohio State is making 41.8 percent of its shots from long range (led by Russell, who is 14 for 29), while the Cards are allowing opponents to shoot just 19.4 percent (20 for 103) from 3-point range but shooting only 24 percent themselves. 5. Free throw shooting. UofL, which is making just 58.6 percent of its attempts from the foul line, is coming off a not-so charitable effort (12-for-26 for 46.2 percent) against Cleveland State. Free throw shooting is important in any big game.

    Photo courtesy University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Facebook Page

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