LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In a game that was billed as a matchup between two of the top guards in the nation.
However, neither Russ Smith of Louisville nor Shabazz Napier of Connecticut had a productive scoring outing, but the No. 11 Cardinals’ supporting cast came to the rescue in an 81-48 thumping of No. 19 UConn at the KFC Yum! Center.
Perhaps feeling the pressure from being called by coach Rick Pitino during Senior Day ceremonies before the game, “Pound for pound and inch for inch the best player in America,” Smith had only one point in the first half.
Napier, also a senior, had only three points. Smith did have five assists and took only one shot in the half. Napier was 0-for-6 shooting and had four turnovers.
Smith finished with three points and Napier had nine, but it was the Montrezl Harrell show in the second half, as Louisville steadily pulled away.
Harrell, a sophomore forward who was played extremely well in the second half of the season, had 15 points in the half and 20 overall. He also had 11 rebounds.
Senior forward Luke Hancock added 16 points, junior forward Wayne Blackshear had 11 and junior guard Chris Jones scored 10 for Louisville.
Smith finished with a career-high 13 assists, as he was constantly double-teamed and unable to get off a shot, taking only two in the game, so he found the open man.
UConn was led by junior forward DeAndre Daniels with 17 points, but no other Husky reached double figures.
Louisville led, 30-18, at the break as Hancock had six points and Blackshear and Harrell added five each, with senior center Stephan VanTreese and freshman guard Terry Rozier each scoring four.
UConn was led by Daniels with eight, but no other Husky had more than three.
The Huskies drew to within 32-25 early in the second half, but Louisville went on a 12-2 run, with Jones getting five points and Harrell adding four.
UConn got no closer than 14 points thereafter.
Louisville wound up shooting 44.8 percent (26-of-58) and forced 22 turnovers, including 12 steals, four by Smith. Louisville had 12 turnovers.
NOTES: It was Senior Day as Louisville honored Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephan VanTreese and Tim Henderson before the game. Those four represent the winningest class in school history with 131 wins (against 30 losses) and counting.
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