Louisville credits much of its early-season success to big man Malik Williams, who continued his run Saturday with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds at North Carolina State.
“Malik gave by far his best effort of the year on both ends of the floor,” Cardinals coach Chris Mack said. “We consciously played him three-, four-minute spurts so that he could always be at his best and not sort of wither as time went on.”
Whatever the interval, DePaul should expect heavy doses of Williams Friday as it visits Louisville in nonconference play.
Louisville rebounded from a nine-point loss at Michigan State to start December with a 73-68 win at N.C. State in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
The Cardinals (6-2) closed the game on a 9-0 run. Matt Cross followed Williams with 13 points as five players scored in double figures for Louisville.
After excelling during much of their season-opening, eight-game homestand at Wintrust Arena, the Blue Demons (7-1) now face their first road game under new coach Tony Stubblefield.
“We got to bring our own energy,” DePaul’s Brandon Johnson said. “We are not going to be at Wintrust, and we will not have the fans around us. Our crowd has to be everyone from the bench and we cannot have sad faces when things are not going our way. We got to remain positive throughout the entire 40 minutes of the game.”
Javon Freeman-Liberty remains DePaul’s catalyst. The team’s leader in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals scored 19 of his 26 points after halftime and chipped in nine boards to key Tuesday’s 87-67 victory against Duquesne.
Johnson said Freeman-Liberty “is everywhere, honestly. He has a major impact on the offensive end. Defensively, he does what a senior is supposed to do: He talks to everyone and tries to get everyone in the right positions.”
Louisville boasts a 10-game winning streak against DePaul and a 38-21 edge in the all-time series. The schools are meeting for the first time since Feb. 27, 2013.
–Field Level Media