Defensive star helps Louisville nip ex-rival

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Russ Smith can always provide an offensive boost for Louisville. His defensive contributions will keep him on the court longer.

Smith set personal bests with 24 points and seven steals as the No. 4 Cardinals survived a rough-and-tumble matchup with former conference foe Memphis 95-87 Saturday for their 18th straight home victory.

"Seven steals is just a great accomplishment," said Smith, who made the most of a rare start. "Anybody can get 24 points, but seven steals is really special."

Coach Rick Pitino almost passed on Smith, though he shined as a youngster at their basketball camps. But Smith grew from 5 feet 9 to 6 feet and kept impressing Ralph Willard, who stepped down as the school's director of basketball operations this year.

"Ralph just kept saying, 'Russ is the guy we need,' " Pitino said. "Russ was terrific. He's got great hands. He has no fear. … I'm real proud of him."

Gorgui Dieng added 14 points and 14 rebounds in the schools' first meeting since the Cardinals (10-0) beat the Tigers by a point to win the Conference USA tournament in 2005 before departing for the Big East.

Will Barton set career highs with 28 points and 16 rebounds for Memphis, which rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to take the lead before the Cardinals overwhelmed the Tigers down the stretch in a game that featured 54 fouls.

"It was like a war we ended up winning," Dieng said. "It was physical."

NO. 1 SYRACUSE 88, N.C. ST. 72: Dion Waiters had a career-high 22 points and Scoop Jardine added 16 for the visiting Orange (11-0), including two 3-pointers during an 11-2 spurt that gave it some cushion after the Wolfpack rallied from a 17-point deficit late in the first half.

NO. 2 OHIO STate 74, S.C. 66: Deshaun Thomas had a career-high 30 points for the visiting Buckeyes (10-1), who overcame the loss of star Jared Sullinger to give Thad Matta his 200th win as Ohio State's coach. Sullinger left in the first half against South Carolina after getting kicked in the left foot. X-rays showed no fracture, although it wasn't known if he would play against Lamar on Tuesday.

NO. 3 KENTUCKY 87, UT-CHATT. 62: Doron Lamb scored 24 and the host Wildcats (9-1) bounced back from their first loss despite an injury to forward Terrence Jones, who hurt a left finger early in the game.

NO. 5 UNC 97, APP. STate 82: Tyler Zeller had 31 points and 10 rebounds and former Sickles High standout John Henson added 17 points for the Tar Heels (9-2), who won their third straight game and 22nd in a row at the Dean Smith Center.

NO. 6 BAYLOR 86, BYU 83: Perry Jones III had 28 points and Brady Heslip hit six 3-pointers for the visiting Bears, 9-0 for the third time in school history and first under coach Scott Drew.

NO. 11 MARQUETTE 93, N. COLORADO 72: Freshman Todd Mayo, starting for suspended star Darius Johnson-Odom, scored 22 for the host Tigers, who are 10-0 for the first time in a decade and seventh time in school history. Johnson-Odom was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.

NO. 15 PITT 69, S.C. STATE 55: Lamar Patterson tied a career high with 16 points as the host Panthers (10-1) pulled away late to win their eighth straight.

NO. 16 G'TOWN 81, AMERICAN 55: Center Henry Sims took over early in the second half and finished with 17 points and six assists, and Markel Starks scored 18 to help the host Hoyas (9-1) to their seventh straight win.

NO. 17 MISS. ST. 80, DETROIT 75: Rodney Hood's jump shot with 17.7 seconds left lifted the visiting Bulldogs (11-1) to their 10th straight victory.

NO. 18 INDIANA 69, NOTRE DAME 58: Cody Zeller had 21 points and eight rebounds as the Hoosiers improved to 10-0 for the first time since 1989-90 in the inaugural Crossroads Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse. "This was a grinder," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "The pace was not exactly where we would have liked it."

UNLV 64, NO. 19 ILLINOIS 48: Mike Moser had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and the Runnin' Rebels went on a 14-2 run to close the first half en route to a convincing victory over the Illini (10-1) in Chicago.

NO. 20 MICH. 87, ALA. A&M 57: Evan Smotrycz had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the host Wolverines (9-2), who shot 55 percent from the field and 63 percent in the second half.

NO. 21 MICH. ST. 74, BOWLING GREEN 60: Brandon Wood had 16 points and the host Spartans (9-2) won their ninth straight.

NO. 24 MURRAY ST. 66, ARK. ST. 53: Isaiah Canaan hit six 3-pointers and scored 21 for the host Racers (12-0), off to their best start since 1950-51.

NO. 25 CREIGHTON 97, HOUSTON BAPTIST 62: Doug McDermott scored 25, his eighth straight 20-point game for the host Bluejays (8-1).

INDIANA ST. 61, NO. 25 VANDY 55: Steve McWhorter hit two free throws with 3:32 left to put the Sycamores ahead for good against the host Commodores (6-4) for their first win over a ranked team since 2006.

State

UCF 61, ODU 53: Keith Clanton had 23 points and 16 rebounds and Marcus Jordan scored 17 for the host Knights (8-2).

MIAMI 93, FAU 90, 2OT: Center Reggie Johnson, making his season debut after knee surgery in June, came off the bench and had 15 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and five assists to lift the Hurricanes (6-4) at the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise.

MALONE 77, TAMPA 60: The Pioneers went on a 14-1 run midway through the second half to put away the Spartans (2-6) at Florida Southern's Jenkins Fieldhouse in Lakeland.

ECKERD 84, TUSKEGEE 70: Forward Lance Kearse scored 13 of his 18 in the second half for the host Tritons (5-2), who shot 58 percent from the field.

W. LIBERTY 81, SAINT LEO 67: The host Lions (5-3) shot only 37.3 percent (22-of-59) from the floor and lost their second straight game.

Defensive star helps Louisville nip ex-rival 12/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 17, 2011 11:46pm]

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