NCAA Basketball

No. 18 Louisville looks to improve against Nebraska Omaha

Louisville is eager to make a strong second impression.

The 18th-ranked Cardinals, after a tumultuous offseason in which coach Rick Pitino was fired after news broke of a federal investigation into corruption and bribery in college basketball, struggled for much of their opener against George Mason on Sunday.

Interim coach David Padgett's team eventually rallied for 72-61 victory. Now, Louisville gets to show what it has learned all week when it hosts Nebraska Omaha on Friday night at the KFC Yum! Center.

"Our guys are anxious to get back out there," Padgett said. "I know when they turn on the TV every night and they see all these games on, it makes them want to play even more. We have three games in seven days, so it's going to be a busy week for us."

Omaha is 0-3, having lost 89-80 in overtime to Montana State, then falling 109-89 at Oklahoma and 103-71 at New Mexico. Judging by that, Louisville better be ready to run and score.

"It is going to be a different style of game," Padgett said. "Omaha likes to get up and down, fast paced, try to score. We've had a big emphasis on the last 5, 10 seconds of the shot clock in the past couple of games as being the most important, but with this team, it's going to be the first 10, 15 seconds because they want to get up and down and they want to play fast.

"So do we obviously, but we want to do it in a controlled way. We don't want to get into a 100-95 type of game. We still want to play good defense and get good shots. It is going to be a good test for us."

Louisville was led in its opener by junior forward Deng Adel (20 points). Freshman guard Darius Perry came off the bench for 17 points, three assists and two steals. Senior guard Quentin Snider and freshman forward Jordan Nwora each had 10.

The Mavericks averaged 83.9 points per game last season -- 13th in the nation -- and had at least one player reach 20 points in 18 of their past 20 games. The players most likely to hit that level this season are junior guard Zach Jackson (17.3 points per game) and senior guard Daniel Norl (16.7).

Omaha has eight newcomers and only four regulars back from a team that reached the Summit League title game last season. Returning starter Mitch Hahn, a forward, might not play after suffering an injury at New Mexico, coach Derrin Hansen said.

"There were just so many unknowns coming in with returning guys playing new roles and new guys trying to fit in," Hansen told the Omaha World-Herald about the early part of the season.

Louisville is the highest-ranked team Omaha has played since moving to Division I in the 2011-12 season.

The Cardinals will still be without sophomore guard Ryan McMahon because of a rib injury. Their second game could get rid of first-game jitters, which might have affected sophomore V.J. King (five points, 0-for-3 shooting) and Padgett himself.

"I get nervous for every game," he said. "I'm a big believer that if you're nervous, you'll be better prepared."

Updated November 17, 2017

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