Defending national champion Louisville is still trying to find its best form, but the Cardinals have taken care of business when they needed to. Louisville looks to improve to 19-0 against unranked opponents and remain spotless on the road in the American Athletic Conference when it visits struggling Houston on Wednesday. The Cougars have lost four straight games and six of their last seven - four of them by more than 20 points - including a 91-52 defeat at Louisville on Jan. 16.Russ Smith, the second-leading scorer in the AAC, leads a Cardinals' offense that is averaging 82.6 points to rank 16th in the nation. Although coach Rick Pitino told reporters recently his team has areas it needs to improve, Louisville is among the national leaders in turnover margin and steals. Houston is 2-2 in league play at home, including a victory over Connecticut and a 61-60 loss to No. 7 Cincinnati.TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPNUABOUT LOUISVILLE (18-4, 7-2 AAC): The dismissal of Chane Behanan in late December hurts Louisville on the boards, where it is a minus-2 in AAC games, but forward Montrezl Harrell stepped up with four double-doubles in his last seven games. Harrell averages 12.5 points - second to Smith's 18.4 - and is third in the league in rebounds (8.3) while shooting 62.3 percent from the field (second). Luke Hancock averages 11.3 points, but is converting only 29.9 percent of his 3-pointers after making almost 40 percent last season.ABOUT HOUSTON (11-11, 3-6): The Cougars are averaging 61.3 points over their rough seven-game stretch, capped by losses at Connecticut and Rutgers that totaled 60 points. TaShawn Thomas has been a consistent force, aside from a four-point game against UConn, averaging a team-best 15.9 points and 8.8 rebounds - second in the AAC - while shooting 59.5 percent from the field. Danuel House (12.8) and Jherrod Stiggers (9.4) have also contributed offensively and L.J. Rose is second in the league with 4.9 assists per contest. TIP-INS1. Louisville F Wayne Blackshear, who recorded a career-high 23 points against Houston three weeks ago, will not play after suffering a concussion in practice Monday. Blackshear, who is averaging 9.7 points, was accidentally elbowed by teammate Akoy Agau.2. Thomas averages three blocks, standing second in the AAC, and has swatted away at least one in all 22 games this season.3. The Cardinals lead the all-time series 14-5, winning nine of the last 10 meetings.PREDICTION: Louisville 80, Houston 66
Latest National Video
Would you like to continue watching?
- Abilene man, 31, arrested after allegedly striking father with hammer
- UT official: Maroon (Texas A&M?) bluebonnets will be plucked
- Threats to kill judge, lawyers result in House of Yahweh member arrest
- Captain not at helm when ferry capsized
- UPDATE: Buffalo Gap area home heavily damaged by fire, family safe