Well, the importance of Russ Smith‘s production may have become that much more apparent to Louisville on Tuesday night, as the Cardinals dropped their second consecutive game.
As the junior guard continues to be productive for head coach Rick Pitino, so too comes the success of the Cardinals. After falling at home as the nation’s No. 1 overall team this past weekend, Louisville was hoping to recover on Tuesday night against a struggling Villanova squad.
Well, leading by two at halftime, the Wildcats kept the pressure on and earned themselves their biggest win to date this season and in the process improved to 12-7 overall and 3-3 within the Big East Conference. As for the Cardinals, the loss marks their second consecutive defeat, yet just their third total on the season. The difficulty in terms of looking ahead for Pitino’s squad is another road game, this time at Georgetown on Saturday.
The story of the game, however, comes back to Smith. While three starters finished in double-figures, it was their catalyst and outright leading scorer that struggled mightily in Philadelphia. On the evening, Smith was just 2-of-13 overall from the field, tallying eight points total. Ironically enough, Smith scored half his points from the free throw line.
So, a bad night for the junior ended up spelling a loss for the Cardinals. Interesting enough, but the credit of course goes to Villanova. Sophomore forward Chane Behanan was limited in the contest as well, scoring just five points while attempting only two shots. Wildcats’ head coach Jay Wright may have had the right game plan in securing the program’s biggest win of the season.
After losing just one of their first 17 games of the season, Louisville must now face the Hoyas this upcoming Saturday in a contest that could either send the Cardinals plummeting in the rankings or keep them at bay amongst the nation’s elite.
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