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12/08/2012 6:02 PM EST
No. 5 Louisville beats Missouri-Kansas City, 99-47
LOUISVILLE 99, UMKC 47

By GARY GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Russ Smith doesn't approach games
expecting big numbers. The Louisville junior guard knows if he
puts in the effort, the statistics will take care of themselves.



Smith happily learned that on Saturday, scoring a career-high 31
points as No. 5 Louisville cruised past Missouri-Kansas City
99-47.



Smith was 12 of 18 from the field and 3 of 5 from 3-point range
in surpassing his previous high of 30 last December against
Kentucky. He led Louisville (8-1) in scoring for the sixth time
in nine games.



"You just never know," said Smith, who also had seven rebounds,
five assists and five steals. "It's just how the ball is
falling, you just never know. You just go out there and try to
make the right basketball decisions. If you make the right
basketball decisions, you'll be in the right spot to get a
triple-double, and that's how the better players do it.



"I think I can if I'm in the right spots."



Nothing about Smith's performance surprised the Cardinals.
They've seen enough of their teammate to know a scoring outbreak
is possible any time he touches the ball.



Even in games in which Smith's shooting touch is off - earning
him the nickname "Russ-diculous" from Louisville coach Rick
Pitino because of his sometimes streaky play and quirky
personality - he will keep trying until he finds a rhythm. Smith
had no such issues on Saturday, and the Cardinals had no problem
going along for the ride.



"Russ is going to be Russ," sophomore forward Wayne Blackshear
said. "He's just going to score, regardless of what team we're
playing. For everybody else, we just play our roles and do what
we do best. Whoever's night it is, it's just their night and
that's our go-to-guy."



Luke Hancock added 15 points and six rebounds, and Montrezl
Harrell a career-high 14 points with seven rebounds for the
Cardinals, who shot 56 percent in winning their third in a row.
All but two players scored for Louisville, which posted its
highest point total this season.



Louisville's defense stifled Missouri-Kansas City (4-5). Besides
forcing 24 turnovers leading to 35 points, the Cardinals held
the Kangaroos to 27 percent shooting, including four of 27 in
the second half.



Louisville also outrebounded UMKC 47-33.



"They do different things," UMKC coach Matt Brown said of
Louisville's defense. "Sometimes it's man-to-man, sometimes it's
zone, sometimes there is a guy on the ball, and sometimes there
is a guy off the ball. They give you so many different looks."



Nelson Kirksey and Trinity Hall led the Kangaroos with nine
points each.



The Cardinals were coming off Tuesday's 80-38 rout at the
College of Charleston, a game in which they forced 27 turnovers
and collected 18 steals while making just seven mistakes.



Pitino probably would have been fine with a close win against a
Cougars team that went 19-12 last season. But he was especially
happy with the lopsided outcome in his club's first true road
game this season.



The coach's wish coming into this game was getting the same kind
of focus at home from his team, understandable considering the
Cardinals overcame a slow start to beat Illinois State 69-66 a
week ago.



Louisville wasted no time making Pitino's wish come true.



Smith quickly helped the Cardinals pick up where they left off
on Tuesday, scoring his team's first eight points and 14 of
their first 26. He added a couple of assists and steals as
Louisville led by 17 after eight minutes.



"We just had to bring the same mentality we had against
Charleston," said Cardinals center Zach Price, who had five
points and three rebounds. "That's basically to get better every
game as we approach the Big East (conference schedule). Playing
better at home was one of Coach's main teaching points, for us
to be more calm at home like we've been on the road."



Smith set the stage for solid shooting in the first half by the
Cardinals, who made 17 of their first 24 from the field and 20
of 33 (61 percent). Louisville's effort included 4 of 7 from
behind the arc.



Louisville's defense played a big role in building the big lead
as well. Entering the game ranked eighth in turnover margin
(8.9), the Cardinals harassed the Kangaroos into 10 in the first
10 minutes, and 16 by halftime.



That pressure led to a lot of transition baskets and 25 points
for Louisville, which led 53-28 at halftime. One of the
Cardinals' best breaks came late in the first half as Ware stole
a pass near the right baseline and fed the ball to Smith, who
lobbed a nice pass to Hancock for a layup.



"I think Russ Smith played a fantastic game," Pitino said. "He
keeps getting better better and better. He creates easy buckets
for you off his defense. He's shooting the ball extremely well."

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