Louisville to play UConn in a non-conference clash
The Cardinals released a five-game non-conference slate on Friday. Also, ACC notes!
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Louisville’s Dana Evans plays against N.C. State at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C. on Feb. 13, 2020. (Mitchell Northam, The Next)
Louisville became the first ACC team to release a non-conference schedule for this season, announcing a five-game slate Friday evening.
The highlight of the schedule is a Dec. 4 trip to Mohegan Sun Arena to face UConn. Both teams will likely be ranked inside the top 10 of the Associated Press Poll when this game tips off. The Huskies and Cardinals haven’t played each other since the 2019 Elite Eight, a game in which UConn beat Louisville by seven points to earn a trip to its 12th consecutive Final Four.
UConn and Louisville were originally supposed to meet this season at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York for a game in the “Never Forget Tribute Classic” which raises money for the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. But back in May, Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said the game was off due to the coronavirus. Recently, the Connecticut Post reported that ESPN was trying to arrange a game between the two contenders for this season.
Louisville’s announcement confirmed the game, but it doesn’t say who the game will be broadcast by.
“We are excited to finally announce our non-conference schedule for the 2020-21 season,” Walz said in a statement Friday. “There were obvious challenges coming up with this year’s schedule, but we are thrilled to continue our rivalry with UConn and to get the opportunity to play the likes of Eastern Kentucky, Bellarmine, Cincinnati, and Middle Tennessee.”
Louisville will open its season with two road games, playing at Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 25, then at Cincinnati on Nov. 29. It’s the first game of the year at the KFC Yum! The Center will be Nov. 29 vs. Eastern Kentucky. After facing UConn on Dec. 4, the Cardinals will return home to face Bellarmine — a first-year Division I program — on Dec. 6.
The Cardinals will then embark on their 20-game ACC schedule, which hasn’t been released yet.
Despite losing Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook to the WNBA, Walz’s side returns ACC Player of the Year Dana Evans and former ACC Freshman of the Year Elizabeth Balogun. Regular contributor Elizabeth Dixon is also back, and the Cardinals added a solid transfer in Ahlana Smith, a former UCLA guard who was an NJCAA All-American at Gulf Coast State College last year. Toss in two incoming five-star talents in Hailey Van Lith and Olivia Cochran, and Louisville seems to have the makings of a team that should compete for the ACC crown this season.
Jayla Everett received a waiver from the NCAA and is eligible to play immediately for Pitt. Previously, the transfer from New Mexico was going to have to wait until the second semester to suit up for the Panthers. A 5-foot-10 guard, Everett was named Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2019 after averaging 13.5 points, 3.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game as a rookie. Her 417 points scored were a New Mexico freshman school record. A native of St. Louis, Lance White’s squad is gaining a talented playmaker and a proven scorer. She has two seasons of eligibility left.
Here’s what White said after Everett was approved to play immediately: “I am thrilled that the NCAA has granted Jayla’s waiver to play for us immediately this season. Her experience and play-making abilities will really help us. She is an explosive player on both ends of the court who loves to compete and I can’t wait to see her immediate impact on our team.”
Expect Mikayla Boykin to be a crucial contributor to Kara Lawson’s Duke Blue Devils this season. Lawson had this to say about the fourth-year guard on Wednesday: “To have an experienced player like Mikayla that's played in a lot of big games, that has the high-level skill, high-level basketball IQ, that's really important for us. We’re definitely a more settled team when Mikayla’s out on the floor. She's very confident and she has a good understanding of what we're trying to do, and she also has the skill to be able to execute what we're trying to do. We're going to count on her a lot this year.”
Syracuse held its first official practice of the season on Friday. Reminder: Tiana Mangakahia is back this season.