Playing the point on Senior Day against No. 19 Connecticut, the senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., did the exact opposite of what most had expected. Only a few days removed from a 26-point outing, which included a perfect 6-of-6 beyond the arc, Smith took aim at the rim just twice during the Cardinals dominating 81-48 win over the Huskies.
"I expected the guys to come out and play hard and for the guys to come out and give good effort, but I didn't expect for us to go up like that," Smith said of the win. "I thought it would be a closer game than what it was. We executed and did everything that coach wanted."
Despite finishing with a lowly 3 points, 14 below his season average, Smith still put together an All-American type performance on Senior Day at the KFC Yum! Center that secured the program's fourth regular season conference crown during Pitino's tenure.
"How would you ever image Russ Smith, knowing him, that on Senior Night he would pass up all opportunities to score and get 13 assists," Rick Pitino said afterward.
He found Tim Henderson for an early jumper and connected with Montrezl Harrell and Luke Hancock for layups to chalk up a trio of assists before the first media break. He found Chris Jones in the corner for a three-pointer and dished to Wayne Blackshear in the paint that led to a dunk, giving him 5 at the half. Four of of his second half assists led to three-pointers, while a pair preceded dunks.
"That shows you how much he's grown," Pitino said. "If any pro scouts wondered tonight whether he could be a point guard, I think the thing is all closed. We all know he can pass, we all know he can handle. Amazing performance by him."
Guiding his team to such a convincing victory with a career-best 13 assists in his final home game as a Cardinal was a perfect ending for one of the program's best ever.
"I feel great about it," said Smith, who played in front of family and friends that made the trip from the Big Apple. "I'm extremely happy. I'm extremely happy that we got the win. I'm happy for my high school friends that came and supported me here. They drove a long, long way. I'm just ecstatic."