Russ Smith scored a career-high 31 points as Louisville defeated Missouri-Kansas City.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Missouri-Kansas City is a sister university to the Missouri Tigers, but that is where the similarities to a big-boy college program end. UMKC was no match for the University of Louisville Saturday. The Cards jumped to an 8-0 lead and thumped the visitors, 99-47.
STAR OF THE GAME: There will be plenty of opportunities to recognize Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan and other members of Rick Pitino's primary rotation. But there aren't many nights when Tim Henderson makes a pair of three-pointers.
It happened for the first time Saturday. Henderson made his first shot as well as his third and finished with six points, a career high.
RUSS-DICULOUS: OK, Smith was the real star of the game. Smith came out firing, scoring Louisville's first eight points. He had 19 by halftime and finished with 31, a career high. Smith also contributed seven rebounds, five assists and five steals. Smith is now averaging 20.3. No U of L player has averaged 20 since Reece Gaines averaged 21 during Rick Pitino's first season here, 2001-02.
Charlie Tyra (twice), John Turner, Wes Unseld, Darrell Griffith, Jim Price, Butch Beard (twice), Gaines and Bud Olsen are the only U of L players to average 20.
CHEER OF THE GAME: The U of L pep band loves Smith. How do they show it? In many ways, including this one: Every time Smith delivers an assist, they put down their instruments and yell:
"Nice pass, Russ."
CHESS MOVE: I'll give credit to the scheduler. This one was over after two possessions. Or maybe one.
STAT SHEET: The Cards lead the Big East in scoring defense. They had limited opponents to 53.9 points per game over their first eight games. Only three teams – Missouri, Duke and Illinois – have scored more than 54 against U of L.
STRANGE STAT: Smith had 31. Louisville's four other starters combined for only 19 points. The Cards got 49 from the bench, led by Luke Hancock's 15.
WHERE'S CHARLIE? – There were plenty of Sugar Bowl mentions on the video board and former Cardinal quarterback Chris Redman enjoyed himself from the front row. But Charlie Strong was not in his seat behind the U of L bench. Cardinal assistant coach Clint Hurtt did attend the first half.
UP NEXT: It's finals week, so the Cards will not play again until Saturday when they visit Memphis for game that will be televised by FoxSports Net at 2:30 p.m. The Tigers are 6-2, losing to Virginia Commonwealth and Minnesota while playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis. They played their best game on Wednesday, overpowering Ohio University, 84-58.
The Tigers defeated Austin Peay, 83-65, on Saturday. Forward Tarik Black had 18 points, one of five Memphis players to finish in double figures.