Friday, February 28, 2014
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Louisville cruises to seventh straight win

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[February 28, 2014]  LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville senior guard Russ Smith can drive coach Rick Pitino crazy at times. An example of that occurred when Smith shot an over-the-head, back-to-the-basket layup as No. 7 Louisville beat Temple 88-66 Thursday night in the KFC Yum! Center.

"You have to give Russ a little latitude," Pitino said with a smile. "But I love him to death. He's one of the best three guards in the country."

Smith, who scored nine of Louisville's first 13 points, finished with 24 points. He hit of 8-of-12 shots. He also had four rebounds, four steals and three assists with no turnovers.

The crazy layup went in, by the way.

Louisville, which has won seven in a row, is 24-4, including 13-2 American Athletic Conference. Temple, which has lost three straight, is 7-20, 2-13.

Forward Montrezl Harrell added 21 points for Louisville, going 9-of-12 from the field. Freshman guard Terry Rozier had a career-high 19 points, and junior point guard Chris Jones had eight assists and four steals.

Junior guard Will Cummings had 18 points and sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey had 17 for Temple.
 


Louisville made 32-of-60 shots (53.3 percent), including 8-of-20 from 3-point range. Rozier and senior forward Luke Hancock each made 3-of-4 threes. Temple was 24-of-57 (42.1 percent), including 4-of-19 on 3-pointers (21.1 percent).

After Louisville's opening flurry, the Cards were never seriously threatened. The closest Temple got was nine points at 30-21. The Owls were done in by Louisville's superior quickness and Harrell's power. He had five dunks and two blocks and altered several other shots.

Louisville, which entered the game ranked third in the nation in steals per game (9.6), had 13. Temple committed 17 turnovers in all, to just nine for Louisville.

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"We played great offensively, not so great defensively," said Pitino. "But we got the win. I was really impressed with Terry (Rozier) and Chris (Jones). They both had outstanding games."

Said Temple coach Fran Dunphy: "We turned it over 17 times. We were averaging a little over 10. These guys, you have to really pay attention to details. They really speed you up.

"As for Smith and Harrell, they can cause you tremendous damage. They're really good. ... There are a couple of other guys who stepped up and made plays as well, so it's not just those two (Smith and Harrell), but they're terrific, no question about it."

Louisville, now tied with Cincinnati atop the AAC, has just one day to prepare for a showdown at No. 21 Memphis on Saturday. The Tigers beat Memphis 73-67 at Louisville on Jan. 9.

"That was our worst game of the year," Pitino said. "Memphis made us look bad. But we're a different team now. We're playing much better defense. We've got three straight tough games coming up (at No. 23 SMU on March 5 and at home against UConn on March 8 following Memphis). But that's the way we want it. It's all about March.

"It's all about matchups this year. One night Kansas can look unbeatable. Then they get beat. Same with Michigan State. That's why gamblers have no money."

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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