Smith, Cards focused on Kentucky

Following Wednesday's surprising 56-55 loss to UNLV the University of Louisville locker room was extremely somber. It was not the way many had envisioned the 2008 portion of this season ending for the Cardinals (8-3), who were ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP Top 25 but will likely drop out of the rankings when the next poll comes out.

Afterward the players seemed equally as shocked. Many sat in front of their lockers, staring into space. Guard Jerry Smith was one of those for awhile. The 6-foot-1 junior from Wisconsin scored four points, grabbed seven rebounds and recorded two steals in 19 minutes against the Runnin' Rebels, but he missed all three of his field goal tries as the Cards shot just 29.6 percent (16 for 54) from the field.

Afterward Smith spoke with ITV about the game, and where the Cards go from here.

Jerry Smith called UofL's setback against
UNLV 'deflating.'

Q: What was going on in that first half when you guys trailed 32-21 at halftime?

A: "We haven't had a half like that since I've been at Louisville for two years. You've just got to give them credit as well, they took us out of our offense early and they played a very good game, you've got to give UNLV credit.

Q: Was UNLV's defense the best you've seen this year?

A: "We've played a lot of good defensive teams, but they rank up there. They try to deny you, take you out of everything you're doing and get a ton of deflections and steals every game."

Q: You guys were able to make a comeback in the second half, what keyed that?

A: "Our defense without a doubt. The first couple minutes of the second half it was all about getting stops, that's what we wanted to focus in on. We knew offense would slowly come, but we really wanted to focus in on getting stops."

Q: How much of a factor will Earl Clark be against Kentucky since he only played three minutes versus the Wildcats as a freshman and was suspended for last season's game?

A: "Earl hasn't played Kentucky since he's been here...he'll make a difference without a doubt." Q: Is this one of the most frustrating losses you've been a part of since you've here?

A: "Without a doubt, by far, simply because there's so much on the line and it's at home as well."

Q: Is this a similar loss to your team's last home loss, Jan. 1, 2008 against Cincinnati?

A: "This is the same exact feeling after that game simply because we were down, fought all the way back, then they got us by one."

Q: What does this loss to do you the team?

A: "It deflates you a little bit, we'll be out of the Top 25 now, it's tough. But you've just got to stay positive and try and keep it moving."

Q: How to you keep everybody up?

A: "Just stay positive and don't hang your head and dwell on it. We've got Kentucky Sunday, to make amends and turnaround heading into Big East games, we've just got to focus in."

Q: Can you talk about the upcoming game against UK, the rivalry and what you guys will have to do to be successful?

A: "There's not another (rivalry) like it in college. People go to the extreme for this game. We've just got to lock in on the scouting report, they've got two tremendous players and we've got to come ready to play team defense to stop them."

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