Arkansas will face Louisville in Maui

FAYETTEVILLE — The Louisville basketball team is still looking for its first win for new coach Kenny Payne ahead of the Cardinals’ game against the No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks today at the Maui Invitational.

Tipoff is 4 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center on ESPN2.

Louisville (0-3) lost one-point games at home to Bellarmine 67-66, Wright State 73-72 and Appalachian State 61-60.

“I told our team that Louisville is going to put on a streak and they’ll be playing an A-plus game here in the near future,” University of Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “I can guarantee you that.

“I mean, to lose three games by one point, they’re [six] points far from 3-0.

The Razorbacks got Musselman’s message loud and clear.

“A struggling team, they’re going to come out with a lot of fire,” Arkansas freshman guard Anthony Black said. “So we have to be ready for them to come with their best punch they have.

“We have to ignore their record and respect our opponent and come up with a good game plan.”

Arkansas (3-0) opened with home wins over North Dakota State 76-58, Fordham 74-48 and South Dakota State 71-46.

“It’s a totally different team than the teams we’ve played outside of Texas,” Razorbacks senior guard Davonte Davis said of the Cardinals. “They’re kind of like the Texas style where they have a lot of guys who are athletic and can make plays for each other and for themselves.”

Arkansas lost an exhibition game to No. 11 Texas 90-60.

“So forget [Louisville’s] record,” Davis said. “They’re a team that wouldn’t be in this tournament if there was something wrong.”

Payne, a player for the national championship team at Louisville in 1986, was an assistant for Kentucky when he coached the Wildcats to a 73-66 win at Arkansas in 2020 after coach John was ejected. Calipari.

The previous two seasons, Payne was an NBA assistant with the New York Knicks.

“I don’t even care about the record, and I know that sounds weird,” Payne said when he met the media in Louisville before the Cardinals traveled to Maui. “Do I think we are losers? No. In no way shape, form or fashion. Do I believe we have things to learn? Yes.

“I’m trying to build a culture, and I know sometimes you look at it and say, ‘That doesn’t look like it.’ … But I am by no means discouraged.

“I get phone calls every day – ‘Are you okay? Are you losing your mind?

“Not at all. I actually feel more encouraged. Because I see kids trying, and I hate to say it like that, but there are teams that played in Louisville last year that say, ‘Kenny , we now see something that we haven’t seen before. We see them fighting. We see them hanging in there.”

A potential game-winning field goal by Louisville senior guard El Ellis was ruled just after the final buzzer against Appalachian State.

Bellarmine didn’t score the final 4:40 against the Cardinals, who finished the game on an 11-0 run.

“We need luck,” Payne said. “We need a break, and when you get that and win, there’s a confidence that comes with that.”

Ellis is averaging 24.0 points and has led Louisville with 29 in each of the past two games.

“Ellis is a dynamic scorer,” Musselman said. “We’re going to have to shrink the floor, we’re going to have to spy on it.

“We’re going to need to have a very good transition defence. We’re going to have to not turn the ball against some players who are quite active defensively, that’s for sure.

Including Louisville’s 51-50 loss to Virginia in last season’s ACC Tournament, the Cardinals are the first team to lose four straight one-point games since Stetson in the 1981-82 season according to a press release from Louisville.

“It’s hard to lose all those games in a row by one point, knowing we’re so close,” Ellis said. “We just have to come out ready to play at the start.

“I can say right now that we are a second half team. But we need to be able to compete for 40 minutes. This is our main problem.

The Cardinals’ roster includes second 6-10 Brandon Hentley-Hatfield, a transfer from Tennessee; 6-9 junior Jae’Lyn Withers and 6-8 senior Sydney Curry.

“They have a big waist in the front,” Musselman said. “There aren’t a lot of paint spots available with the way they defend the rim.”

Arkansas-Louisville’s winner and loser will play the winner and loser of the game between No. 10 Creighton and No. 23 Texas Tech on Tuesday.

The Razorbacks’ game on Wednesday will be against an opponent from across the group, which includes No. 14 Arizona, No. 17 San Diego State, Cincinnati and Ohio State.

“Look, the bottom line is we have three very tough games against long, athletic teams,” Musselman said.

Dave Odom, the former Wake Forest and South Carolina coach, is chairman of the Maui Invitational Tournament Committee.

“Dave Odom called me and he said, ‘Hey, I’m just telling the coach somebody come back 0-3, that’s really good,'” Musselman said. “It’s a true statement, because someone is.

“So we have to try and focus and win our first game and then see what happens from there.”

Arkansas could play again without first-year guard Nick Smith – who missed the first three games with a knee injury – but Black said he feels good about the team’s ability to play three consecutive days at a high level.

“We have a lot of depth in this team,” Black said. “We have a lot of guys we trust to come and give us good minutes.

“In a tournament like this, we will all have to come and contribute.”

Davis said the Razorbacks learned by playing in Texas.

“The loss to Texas helped us think that we can’t just go out and think somebody’s going to give us a win, because that’s not going to happen,” Davis said. “Just play our game. Play hard in defense and the offense will take care of itself.

Black said he expects the Razorbacks to accept the challenge that opposing teams will present in Maui.

“I think we’ll be good at playing in that environment because we have a lot of players,” Black said. “I think playing in an environment like this will probably lift us up.”

Louisville freshman goaltender Mike Freeman said the Cardinals are excited to get a fresh start in Maui.

“If you grew up watching college basketball, you know what the Maui Invitational is all about,” Freeman said. “I watched a lot of games in this tournament and saw a lot of great players. For me and my team, playing there is a dream come true.

“I think we are ready. It’s a really good field, and we have a chance to surprise some people and start changing our season.

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