Cards rout IUPUI, 90-60

Louisville pulled away from visiting IUPUI Wednesday for a 90-60 win to improve to 8-0.

The University of Louisville men's basketball players often refer to coach Rick Pitino as "Coach P."

After the first half of Wednesday night's game against IUPUI, though, that ‘P' could have stood for peeved.

Pitino got on his team at intermission because the Cardinals only had seven assists on 16 field goals as they led the two-win Jaguars by only five points.

In the second half, however, it looked like the UofL players had listened to their coach. The Cards, buoyed by a 15-0 run, doubled-up IUPUI after intermission on their way to a 90-60 victory in front of 20,604 fans at the KFC Yum! Center.

"It was a tale of two halves," Pitino said afterward. "I thought in the second half we played good defense and passed the ball. In the first half we were selfish and didn't play good defense."

Senior guard Chris Smith scored a game-high 19 points and sophomore center Gorgui Dieng scored a career-high 18 points – on 8-for-8 shooting from the field – and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Louisville (8-0), which is ranked No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25, to its eighth straight victory to start the season.

"He had a right to be in a foul mood," Smith said of Pitino. "We came out and weren't ready to play. In the second half we picked it up and got back to our normal play. We passed the ball better. In the first half we were selfish, taking our own shots."

Smith scored 12 of his points in the second half on 5-for-7 shooting. Many of his baskets came off of feeds from junior point guard Peyton Siva, who finished with six points and eight assists against only one turnover.

IUPUI (2-8), which came in having lost three in a row and seven of its last eight games, led 7-6 at the first TV timeout. Louisville took the lead it wouldn't relinquish on Russ Smith's layup with 14:11 to play in the first half.

The sophomore guard once again sparked the Cards off the bench, but he also frustrated Pitino once again. Afterward the UofL coach was asked to comment on the play of Smith, who scored 12 points off the bench, and Pitino responded: "I don't want to."

Later in his post-game press conference though, he did expand on his feeling about Smith's play. "I want Russ to shoot every time he is open, every time. But I want him to pass it when he's not open. We've got the A part, but we're having a very difficult time with the B part," Pitino said.

Still it was hard to deny his impact early. He spear-headed UofL's 17-4 surge – he scored eight points and assisted Chris Smith's run-capping layin – to give the Cards a 23-11 lead with 9:49 remaining before intermission.

That lead quickly disappeared, though, as IUPUI hit four three-pointers in a row.

Dieng's conventional three-point play ended that run, but the Jaguars hit another three-pointer to tie it back up. IUPUI came in shooting 30.6 percent from three-point range, and averaging 6.6 made shots behind the arc per game, but the Jaguars certainly shot better than that against the Cards.

"We underrated their outside shooting a little bit," Pitino admitted afterward.

Chris Smith broke the tie with one free throw, then Dieng's foul-line jumper made it 29-26. Siva followed with two free throws to boost Louisville's lead back to five.

The Cards had that same cushion at halftime, which they led 40-35.

Louisville shot 51.6 percent (16 for 31) in the first half led by Dieng, who was 6-for-6 from the field. He also had nine rebounds as the Cards controlled the glass 20-10. UofL, though, was just 0-for-3 from three-point range.

Meanwhile the Jaguars, who scored the most points by a UofL foe in the first half all season, were 7 for 13 (53.8 percent) from beyond the arc and 5 for 10 from two-point range.

"He got on us a little [at halftime] and we came out on fire," freshman forward Chane Behanan said. Leading 50-45 early in the second half the Cards went on a 15-0 run to take command.

It was started by two free throws and a layup by Russ Smith before Rakeem Buckles broke into the scoring column. The junior forward, who hadn't played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Feb. 27 against Pittsburgh, had a steal, then converted a semi-acrobatic layup, on which he was fouled, with 12:55 left in the game. After a IUPUI timeout he hit the free throw to keep the Cards' surge going.

Chris Smith hit back-to-back baskets, then Siva hit a pair of free throws before Behanan capped off the run with a steal and dunk. That made it 65-45 with 10:40 to play. UofL cruised from there. "In the second half it seemed like the ball moved a lot quicker than it did in the first half," said senior forward Kyle Kuric, who added 11 points and six rebounds. "In the second half we were unselfish, like we should have been in the first half, and like we should be, and that led to easy baskets."

The last few minutes were highlighted by the reserves as the Cards notched a season-high point total. Sophomore guard Tim Henderson hit his second three-pointer of the season and freshman forward Angle Nunez tallied seven quick points, on 3-for-3 shooting, in four minutes of action. Meanwhile Buckles finished with three points on 1 of 3 shooting, while grabbing four rebounds, in 11 minutes of action.

"I did okay, I think I could've grabbed a couple more rebounds," said Buckles, whose right knee was heavily wrapped. "All in all I was just happy to be out there."

"We don't expect anything from Rak for about three weeks," Pitino said afterward.

IUPUI, meanwhile, shot like many expected it would in the second half. After a torrid first 20 minutes the Jaguars cooled off considerably. They shot just 26.3 percent (10-for-38), and were only 2-for-10 from three-point range, after halftime.

"That is why they are very good at home," said IUPUI coach Todd Howard, a graduate of Ballard High School and a former UofL reserve from the Denny Crum Era. "I just think they are able to score quickly off of turnovers and quickly in transition off of long run-outs. I think they are playing as well as anyone. It was a six-point game [in the second half], we were right there, but we got a little bit fatigued, which happens when you run into Big East and BCS-level size and depth."

UofL shot 59.4 percent (19 of 32) in the second half to finish at 55.6 percent (35 for 63) for the game.

"In the second half, even though we missed a lot, we had a lot of good exchanges and did a lot of terrific things. We moved the basketball well and did a much better job. We just have to learn how to play fast and communicate like we do playing slow."

UofL next hosts Fairleigh Dickinson, and former Card George Goode, at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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