CardinalSports.com's Howie Lindsey was sitting courtside for Louisville's 99-47 dismantling of Missouri-Kansas City Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center. Check out these five quick observations from the game.
ONE Russ Smith scored 14 of Louisville's first 22 points. He was outscoring UMKC until the 8:04 mark when Nate Rogers hit a three from the top of the key to cut Louisville's lead to 32-16. Smith finished the first half with 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. He started the first half where he left off the first, hitting a three from the corner on Louisville's first possession.
Smith checked out of the game with 4:56 to go to a standing ovation from the crowd. He had 31 points, a new career high, to go along with seven rebounds, five steals and five assists. His previous season high was 24 points against Illinois State on Dec. 1. His previous career high came Dec. 31, 2011 at Kentucky when he scored 30 points.
Smith came into the game averaging 19.0 points per game. The last Louisville player to average more than 20 points per game for a season was Reece Gaines in 2003.
TWOAfter holding College of Charleston to just 38 points Tuesday night, Louisville held UM-Kansas City to a paltry 47 points. Charleston scored just two field goals in the final 9:32 of Tuesday night's game, and UMKC hit just one field goal in the first 5:45. Louisville's defense forced Charleston into 27 turnovers. Louisville forced KC into 16 in the first half.
That means UofL forced its opponents into 43 turnovers in just three halves of basketball.
THREELuke Hancock takes a lot of grief from his teammates for his style of play. Teammates like to say Hancock plays "Old Man Basketball" because of his clever passing and his slow-moving basketball moves inside the three-point arc.
Hancock had a vintage "Old Man Basketball" move a little more than midway through the second half. He got the ball on the wing, ball-faked to get his defender in the air, took a pair of dribbles for an easier shot, ball-faked to get his next defender in the air and dipped under for an easy bankshot from 10 feet. Hancock followed that up two possessions later with a dunk, perhaps ruining his "Old Man" reputation for the rest of the game.
FOUR Sophomore guard Kevin Ware continues to show impressive athleticism. Twice against Kansas City he leaped for a block and reached shocking heights. Ware, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds, gives opponents fits in the press because of his long arms and ability to change direction quickly.
FIVE Louisville was ahead 97-47 with just over two minutes left in the game when Michael Baffour, also known as "Dark Slime" according to Smith, hit a pair of free throws for his first points in a Cardinal uniform.
Because of Louisville's massive lead, the fans got to see walk-ons Baffour, Logan Baumann, Tim Henderson and Jordan Bond for extended minutes.