November 23, 2014

Although Louisville has been strong defensively, early shooting woes have kept Rick Pitino's squad from reaching its full potential.

The sixth-ranked Cardinals look to find an offensive rhythm as they go for a 31st consecutive home win over an unranked opponent Monday night against Savannah State.

Louisville (3-0) missed its first 13 3-point attempts and shot a season-low 38.6 percent overall Friday, while All-American Montrezl Harrell battled foul trouble in an 85-67 win over Marshall.

The Cardinals have missed 40 of 48 attempts from beyond the arc in their last two games. Wayne Blackshear is shooting 35.7 percent from the field and has gone 4 of 17 from 3-point range, while Chris Jones has made 29.5 percent overall and is 4 of 15 on 3s.

"I think that the most important thing is for us to understand what focus is all about," said Pitino, two wins shy of 700 victories. "We lose focus based on missed shots and good teams don't do that."

Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku have saved the Cardinals on the glass, totaling 26 offensive rebounds in the first three games. Mathiang is averaging a team-high 8.3 rebounds per contest, while Onuaku is at 8.0.

Louisville has also limited opponents to 58.0 points and 35.1 percent shooting while forcing a combined 59 turnovers.

"As long as we play defense, we know we'll win games," said Jones, who shot 5 for 18 on Friday but finished with a team-high 18 points after going 7 of 10 from the free-throw line.

The Cardinals finished with a season-low seven turnovers and season highs in free-throw attempts (44), steals (13) and blocks (six) to overcome a season-low 12-point effort from Harrell, who sat out most of the second half with four fouls.

The star forward is averaging a team-best 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 61.3 percent from the field.

"Yeah, we had to win the game off of defense because we weren't clicking offensively," Pitino said. "We had to wear them out physically and do the things that we have to do. Our effort level defensively and getting after people was great."

Now the Cardinals look to put together a more complete effort as they seek a sixth straight 4-0 start. They've also won 29 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents and 30 in a row there against unranked foes.

Louisville cruised to a 71-45 home victory in the only meeting with Savannah State on Dec. 20, 2006.

Javaris Jenkins scored 33 points and went 6 of 7 from 3-point range to lead the Tigers to an 87-83 comeback victory in overtime over Cleveland State on Saturday. The sophomore had averaged 6.0 points over the first three games for Savannah State, which has followed two road losses with two home wins.

The Tigers have shot a combined 51.0 percent and gone 12 of 24 from beyond the arc in their last two games.

They'll certainly have to take better care of the ball against Louisville, as they're averaging 22.0 turnovers on the season.

Savannah State dropped a pair to ranked teams last season, 76-34 at No. 13 Florida on Dec. 29 and 80-50 at No. 9 Baylor on Jan. 3.

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