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Preview: UConn eyes fifth win against Louisville since 2013 championship

Since routing Louisville in the national championship in 2013, UConn has gone 4-0 against the Cardinals.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Louisville at Connecticut
Thursday night’s matchup features two of the nation’s top 20 teams in scoring offense. Above, UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson (left) looks to score against Louisville’s Kylee Shook in last February’s meeting, which the Huskies won, 69-58.
Photo by: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

Asia Durr has cemented herself as Louisville’s go-to superhero in times of need, but a sore knee could be the highlight of her night as the No. 3 Cardinals face the No. 2 UConn Huskies in an end-of-January matchup.

Despite being without Durr on Sunday, Louisville — like UConn has done all season — found a way to beat Pitt with a lineup full of underrated talent that features Dana Evans, Sam Fuehring and Bionca Dunham.

Last season, Durr scored 20 points at Gampel Pavilion, but Myisha Hines-Allen stole the show with the team’s sole double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds). As for UConn, the Huskies turned the ball over only eight times and further capitalized on Katie Lou Samuelson’s 26 points and a double-double (12 points, 15 rebounds) from Gabby Williams.

In terms of the roster alone, both teams are about equal in the number of upperclassmen (UConn — 7, Louisville — 8) and players that stand over six feet tall (UConn — 6, Louisville — 5). Unfortunately for the Cardinals, UConn has a history of stepping on the Cardinal bird since 1993, and its 2019 meeting with U of L may not go any differently.

Three ingredients for a UConn win

Points off turnovers and fouls may be the only way to win

Most recently against UCF, UConn turned 19 turnovers into 24 points, and it’s that same kind of dominance that cost Louisville a chance at beating Notre Dame on Jan. 10, despite losing possession eight times. Even Pitt, who lost to the Cardinals 70-42 on Sunday, forced 18 turnovers, but scored only 12 points in the first half.

The game means the most for UConn in the first quarter

Like in many other sports, how you start isn’t always how you finish. Over its last three games (Temple, SMU, UCF), UConn has nearly outscored itself in the first quarter versus the second half combined, 107-75. As long as UConn puts over 20 points in the first quarter to Louisville, then games that ended up being close — such as with Baylor and St. John’s (UConn scored a season-low 12 points in both opening frames) — won’t be repeated.

With or without Asia Durr, UConn needs to watch Sam Fuehring

The entire women’s basketball community knows and loves Asia Durr, but not enough is being said about Sam Fuehring. The senior is second to Durr in field goal percentage (55.2 percent) and leads the team in total rebounds (124). One downside of the New Jersey native is that her 6-foot-3 frame loves to foul, as she has averaged two per game over the last three games.

Game information

No. 2 UConn Huskies (18-1, 7-0 AAC) at No. 3 Louisville Cardinals (19-1, 7-1 ACC)

When: Thursday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY

How to tune in: ESPN, 97.9 ESPN

Injury report: None to report.