Hancock 'toughs it out,' leads the Cardinals

Junior guard Luke Hancock had the biggest moment of his career at the University of Louisville on Saturday, shooting the Cardinals past host Syracuse. Hancock hit four three-pointers, including the go-ahead bucket in the final minute, and made several key defensive plays in U of L's 58-53 win in the Carrier Dome.

Luke Hancock has heard the same questions the entire season.

"How's the shoulder feel," reporters and fans have asked the University of Louisville junior basketball player over and over.

The transfer from George Mason called the best player on the team in the offseason by U of L coach Rick Pitino has had his struggles this season.

But on Saturday in the Carrier Dome, Hancock was a star for the Cardinals. He hit four three-pointers, scored 12 points and had key plays on both ends of the floor in the final minute to help the Cardinals score a 58-53 victory over Syracuse.

Hancock, who told Cardinal Authority last week that he "won't be 100 percent this season" after off-season shoulder surgery, gave the Cardinals the lead for good with a three-pointer with 50 seconds left.

"He's the toughest kid I've seen," Pitino told reporters after the game. "He won't be ‘right' until the end of the season, but he's going to tough it out."

And even not ‘right,' Hancock showed the fans why Pitino selected him as a captain before he ever played a game for the Cardinals.

Hancock was 3-for-3 from three-point range in the final 9:11 of the game and had a deflection and steal with 1:14 left on defense.

"A little bit of luck," Hancock told reporters with a smile after the game about the steal, which came off an inbounds play under the Orange basket.

Hancock came into the game hitting 33.9 percent from three-point range on the season but hit 4 of 5 in 20 minutes of action against Syracuse.

And it didn't come without pain.

Hancock, who Pitino called questionable for last week's Seton Hall game because of his shoulder, sat out last season after the transfer fro George Mason. He had surgery on both shoulders and was cleared only day before practice started.

He started the season 3-for-24 from three-point range in the first three games of the season but has never lost his confidence.

"I have to play through it," Hancock said last week. "My shoulder isn't right but I just have to play through (the pain). I want to be out there."

Pitino said trainer Fred Hina told him he hasn't seen a shoulder as bad, telling WHAS radio guy Paul Rogers after the game "if you had his shoulder, you wouldn't be holding that microphone right now to interview me."

"It's just coming around right now," Pitino said of Hancock's health.

It's coming around at the right time. Hancock had 13 points and was 3 of 3 from three-point range against Seton Hall and added seven against DePaul.

On Saturday, Hancock had his best moment as a U of L player. He's now 28 of 67 from three-point range in Big East league games.

"I just try and get ready for every game," Hancock said. "(Hina) really helps me stretch it and get it loose. I spend a lot of time trying to get ready."

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