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Smith lifts Louisville over UCF

Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Russ Smith racked up 27 points and three other Louisville players scored in double figures as the 12th-ranked Cardinals cruised to an 87-70 win over UCF at the KFC Yum! Center.

Luke Hancock contributed 16 points, Montrezl Harrell had 14 and Wayne Blackshear netted 10 for Louisville (18-4, 7-2 AAC), which opened the game on a 12-1 run and never trailed in bouncing back from Thursday's tough 69-66 home loss to American Athletic Conference leader Cincinnati. Smith finished 9-of-14 from the field.

"Well outside of getting beat off the dribble a lot tonight, we did some good things," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They were a very physical team and it was called like the regular games that we played last couple of years, we just had to adjust to that... but overall it was a good victory. We still have some areas for improvement, which is something I like. We just have to keep working on those."

Tristan Spurlock amassed 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the loss, the sixth in a row for the Golden Knights (9-10, 1-7). Calvin Newell and Kasey Wilson added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

"I'm proud of our team tonight. Obviously, we didn't win, but we're a team that's building," UCF coach Donnie Jones said.

Smith canned a pair of 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds to set the tone, and accounted for 10 of Louisville's initial 14 points as the Cardinals quickly built a double-digit lead. The differential grew to 14 points after Harrell knocked down a jumper with 12:35 left in the opening half for a 20-6 advantage.

UCF cut into the deficit later in the period, with Spurlock dropping in seven points during an 8-2 run that pulled the Golden Knights within 26-21 with 6 1/2 minutes remaining prior to the intermission. UCF got as close as four points down, but Tim Henderson and Blackshear each buried threes as Louisville closed the half on an 8-2 spurt to take a 37-27 lead into the break.

The Golden Knights again made a bid to get back in it behind Spurlock, who converted a 3-point play and a jumper from beyond the arc on consecutive possessions to trim the margin to 46-38 with 14 minutes left to play.

UCF was down by nine points with 6 1/2 minutes to go, but Hancock drained a trey and was fouled while making a layup off a steal on the ensuing possession. He hit the subsequent free throw, putting the Cardinals up 74-59 and thwarting any possible comeback hopes from the Golden Knights.

Game Notes

Smith had 24 points while making six triples in Louisville's 90-65 win over UCF in Orlando on Dec. 31 ... The Golden Knights were taking on a third consecutive ranked opponent, having previously lost to Cincinnati and Memphis ... Isaiah Sykes, UCF's leading scorer on the season, pulled down 11 rebounds but was held to eight points on 2-of-12 shooting ... The Cardinals outscored UCF by a 48-28 margin in the paint.

02/02 03:40:20 ET

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