Wayne Blackshear scored as Louisville defeated FIU.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Make it five consecutive wins for the University of Louisville basketball team after the Cardinals overwhelmed Florida International, 79-55, at the KFC Yum! Center Wednesday night. Some game highlights:
STAR OF THE GAME: Wayne Blackshear arrived at U of L as a McDonald's all-American – and he's starting to play the part. Blackshear scored 18 points, tying his career high. He made 7 of 13 shots, the fifth time in six games Blackshear has made at least 50 percent of his field-goal attempts. He also made half of his eight three-point shots. Blackshear has averaged 12.8 points over U of L's last four games.
Eric Crawford wrote about the improvement that Blackshear -- and several teammates -- have made on offense in this column: http://www.wdrb.com/story/20389031/crawford-
Peyton Siva was a solid runner-up, making five of eight three-point attempts with a dozen assists. The three-point and assist totals were both career highs for Siva. The interesting thing about Siva's stat line – all of his shots were three-pointers. He had missed his last four three-point attempts over the last three games.
Siva said that he has been working on his shot and feels relaxed taking them against zone defenses this season.
"They played me for the three, so I just took the shot," Siva said.
FLASHY STAT: The Cards had 23 assists on 31 baskets.
WELCOME BACK – The U of L crowd greeted FIU coach Richard Pitino with a solid ovation – even though his team dressed out in their headache-inducing turquoise/pink/black sneakers. Mark Lieberman, another former member of the U of L staff, is a member of the FIU staff. FIU is 3-5.
Rakeem Buckles is sitting out this season at FIU after transferring from U of L. He did not make the trip.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED JINX – OK, U of L guard Russ Smith is not featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, so technically he does not officially qualify as an SI jinx candidate. But Smith did earn a 12-page spread in SI this week (at least 12 pages in the iPad edition) for a story written by Luke Winn. Smith scored 14 points, putting him in double figures for the 11th consecutive game this season. The last time Smith failed to score at least 10 points was U of L's Final Four loss to UK last April, when he scored nine points.
Smith said that he had not read the story, but that he plans to read it soon.
CELEBRITY GUESTS – Eight members of Charlie Strong's Sugar Bowl team were introduced during the second media timeout of the first half. The players were linebacker Preston Brown, offensive lineman Alex Kupper, defensive back Adrian Bushell, center Mario Benavides, receiver DeVante Parker, safety Hakeem Smith, safety Calvin Pryor and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Cards play Florida on Jan. 2 in New Orleans. Bushell started his career with the Gators. The Cards are a 14-point underdog. Public address announcer Sean Moth asked Bushell if he was optimistic about Louisville's chances of delivering the upset.
"We've got a chance to make history," Bushell said.
The optimism has to be based on a solid performance by Bridgewater, who no longer has a cast on his broken left wrist.
"Feeling great," Bridgewater said.
RATINGS UPDATE – Winn not only wrote the story on Smith this week, he also updated his weekly college basketball power ratings – and placed the Cards Number Two, behind Duke but ahead of Michigan (3), Indiana (4), Arizona (5) and Florida (6).
The Cards remained fourth in the updated Pomeroy rankings, behind Florida, Indiana and Duke.
UP NEXT – The Cardinals travel to Nashville Saturday to play an undermanned Western Kentucky team. The Hilltoppers have lost back-to-back games to Murray State and Virginia Commonwealth. The game will tip at 8:30 EST at Bridgestone Arena.
Pomeroy's computer formula puts Louisville's win probability at 96 percent and predicts a 75-55 U of L victory. Jeff Sagarin's computer formula favors U of L by 17 points.