Cards will get Rutgers in AAC quarterfinal

MEMPHIS - The University of Louisville will open postseason play on Thursday at 3 o'clock against Rutgers in the AAC Tournament. The Scarlet Knights beat South Florida 72-68 on Wednesday night. Here's a look ahead and a look at a few other notes from the U of L camp.

The defending national champion University of Louisville Cardinals will begin postseason play on Thursday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.

The Cardinals, co-champions of the American Athletic Conference and the No. 2 seed in the AAC Tournament, will face Rutgers at 3 o'clock EST.

No. 7 Rutgers beat South Florida 72-68 on Wednesday night in the opening game of the tournament. It was the third win over the Bulls this season for the Scarlet Knights.

Myles Mack had 16 points, while Wally Judge had 15 for Rutgers (12-20).

It will be the third meeting between the two teams this season with U of L beating the Scarlet Knights 83-76 on Jan. 4 in Piscataway, N.J., and then a 102-54 blowout in Louisville on Feb. 16.

In the first meeting, the Cardinals hit 41 of 46 free throws and Russ Smith led the way with 22 points. Luke Hancock hit 6 of 8 three-pointers and had 25 points at the Yum Center.

The Cardinals lead the overall series 13-1 and have won nine in a row. U of L averages 81.8 points and Rutgers 72.4, while the Cardinals' scoring margin is plus-20 and Rutgers is minus-3.6. U of L should be a 12-point favorite.


U of L senior Russ Smith has added some more hardware on Wednesday.

Smith was named first-team All-American by USA Today Sports and also by Sports Illustrated and the United States Basketball Writers' Association of America. He was also picked to the NABC All-District team.

Smith leads the team at 17.5 points a game and 4.8 assists. He ranks No. 8 on the school's all-time scoring record at 1,779 career points and is just 27 points behind LaBradford Smith.

He's also No.2 on the school's all-time steals list with 246, just eight behind Peyton Siva.


Junior Montrezl Harrell was named the Most Improved Player in the AAC.

The 6-foot-8 Harrell has improved his scoring by nine points per game from a season ago to 14.0, while more than doubling his rebounding from 3.6 boards to 8.3. Harrell also became more active on the defensive end, doubling his block total from 27 to 41 and picking up 15 more steals this season in nine less games.

Harrell has posted nine double-doubles this season, eight in his last 16 games, and has scored in double digits 24 times.

Harrell has also earned USBWA all-district accolades and was named to the NABC second team all-district squad.


U of L coach Rick Pitino has one of the best records going in conference tournament play.

Pitino is 45-13 and has won 11 conference tournament titles in 24 years, including five SEC titles when he was at Kentucky and three Big East titles while he's been at U of L.

"I don't know why the record's good," Pitino said. "But with conference tournaments, some coaches don't put great relevancy into it.

"For me, it's always been extremely relevant because I think it's a dress rehearsal to get ready for the tournament in terms of a Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday games, in terms of preparation in back-to-back games.

"I think it's really important … I've always felt it was really important to play well in the conference tournament, going into it."

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