BOZICH | Louisville Topples Cincinnati on Smith Jumper - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville Topples Cincinnati On Smith Jumper

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CINCINNATI (WDRB) – The race to win the American Athletic Conference will continue for the next two weeks. Russ Smith guaranteed that.


In the final 1:15 of the game, Smith delivered back-to-back passes to Montrezl Harrell for dunks. He was not finished. Smith then hit a contested 12-footer with 2.2 seconds to go to give Louisville a 58-57 win at Cincinnati Saturday afternoon.


At 13-2 in AAC play, Cincinnati sits ahead of the 12-2 Cards, but for Louisville the victory balanced the 69-66 victory that the Bearcats earned at the KFC Yum! Center Jan. 30.


Smith finished with 10 points and five assists. Harrell had 21 points and 10 rebounds.


Cincinnati fans packed Fifth Third Arena for only the second time this season. Students waved cardboard cutouts of Chane Behanan and Rick Pitino behind the basket whenever Louisville players went to the free throw line. Oscar Robertson, the greatest player in the history of Cincinnati basketball, cheered from his courtside seat.


It didn't matter.


The second half was turbulent for the Cardinals. First Luke Hancock and then Russ Smith earned their third fouls less than three minutes into the half. U of L coach Rick Pitino told Hancock to play through his foul trouble, but put Smith on the bench, letting Chris Jones and Terry Rozier handle the backcourt.


Jones and Rozier were ready. With the Cards down 30-27, Jones and Rozier scored the game's next nine points – a jumper by Jones, a three by Jones, a layup off a steal by Rozier and a layup off a steal by Jones.


Play in the first half was choppy – at best. Cincinnati missed 25 of 31 shots and scored only 19 points, the fewest points the Bearcats have scored in a half in 28 games this season.


Center Justin Jackson, their best inside player, drew his second foul less than three minutes into the game, and Cincinnati lacked any offensive rhythm without him. The Bearcats had one basket in the paint and didn't have any fast-break points.


But Louisville failed to take advantage of Jackson's absence, missing multiple layups and dunks. Montrezl Harrell missed six of eight shots, most within five feet of the rim. The Cards also struggled from the foul line, missing six of 11.


Louisville plays host to Temple Thursday before visiting Memphis on Saturday.


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