WKU Welcomes No. 4 Louisville to Diddle


It’s been six years since WKU defeated Louisville at the Sommet Center in Nashville. I remember watching in my dorm room in disbelief as Orlando Mendez-Valdez walked to the bench in the final seconds with a huge smile on his face, hugging first-year head coach Ken Mcdonald. Man, how things change so quickly.

That win was huge for WKU. The Toppers went on to win the Sun Belt Conference and advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost on a last-second shot to Gonzaga.

However, since knocking off the Cardinals in 2008, the Hilltoppers have been unable to come away with another win against Rick Pitino’s squad. As a matter of fact, the closest WKU has came to even being competitive against Louisville was a 60-70 loss at the Yum Center in 2011.

This Saturday, the Tops will welcome the Cardinals to Diddle Arena for the second time in recent history. The last time the two played at Diddle, Louisville dismantled WKU 114-82 during the 2011-12 season. I was there for that game. It was easily the largest, most electric crowd I have ever been apart of, but unfortunately the crowd was quickly taken out of the game after the Cards jumped out to an early big lead.

Hopefully, this time will have a better result for the Toppers, but WKU will face a tall order as Louisville enters the game ranked fourth in the nation. The Cardinals are 9-0, and have wins against Minnesota, Ohio State and Indiana.

Meanwhile, WKU enters the game at 5-4, but have won four of their last five games. The Toppers are still riding high after a big win at Ole Miss, and will look to keep their momentum going. A win tomorrow night would mark the first time this season WKU has won three games in a row.

If WKU wants to come away with a victory, it must figure out an answer for Wooden Award candidate Montrez Harrell. Harrell is averaging 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, while shooting just over 62 percent from the field (including 70 percent of his shots inside the arc).

Harrell is extremely athletic, and will pose a matchup problem for the Toppers. WKU must find a way to keep him away from the basket and force him to take long jumpers. It will be interesting to see who Ray Harper has guard Harrell. Out of his choices, freshman standout Justin Johnson has the best skillset to guard Harrell, but that would be alot to ask of such an inexperienced player.

On the other side, the Cardinals must find a way to slow down the shooting of T.J. Price, who has came alive after a slow start to average 25.3 ppg over his last three contests. In Wednesday’s night victory against Chicago State, Price scored a season-high 29 points and shot 6-of-9 from deep. WKU will need a similar performance from Price on Saturday to get a victory.

WKU and Louisville will tip off Saturday at 11:00 a.m. If you are unable to make it to Diddle, the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. You can also follow along with Wave the Red Towel for live updates and commentary.