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NCAA Basketball Louisville Cardinals

Louisville’s Russ Smith With Statement Game In Win Over UCF

Russ Smith

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville Cardinals guard Russ Smith had 24 points, nine assists, and four steals in a 90-65 victory over the Central Florida Knights. With the win, the No. 14 Cardinals move to 12-2 on the year and 1-0 in the American Athletic Conference while the Knights fall to 8-4 overall and 0-1 in the AAC.

In just 29 minutes played, Smith scored his 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including hitting a blazing 6-of-10 three-point attempts. His nine assists are an indication that he has accepted the role as the main facilitator on the team — a role that was previously void due to the graduation of Peyton Siva after last season’s NCAA Championship run. If Smith consistently scores and records assists, this team has the potential to go very far yet again.

With the dismissal of Chane Behanan from the team for institutional violations, Rick Pitino is forced to mix-and-match and toss up his rotations slightly. Luke Hancock is the x-factor for this squad in my eyes. Against UCF he shot 5-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-9 from three-point range to score 16 points off the bench. He needs to hit his shots in order to spread the floor for his team, and when he does you can see the result.

Montrezl Harrell had 15 points and eight rebounds while Terry Rozier had 11 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench as Louisville delivered yet another high-scoring effort.

Let’s see if they can keep up their offensive output when they travel to Rutgers on January 4 to take on the Scarlet Knights. Tip off is at 6:00 p.m. ET.

Dan Karpuc is an American Athletic Conference basketball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_karpuc, “Like” him on Facebook, and add him to your network on Google.