Smith finally shakes scoring slump

Junior guard Jerry Smith broke out of almost a nearly month-long scoring slump with a season-best 20 points in Saturday's win over West Virginia.

Smith scored 18 of those points in the first half, staking the University of Louisville to a 45-25 lead over the Mountaineers.

Smith finished the game 7-for-8 from the field, 4 of 5 from three-point range, and 2-for-2 from the foul line. It was his first double-digit scoring effort since putting up 11 against Kentucky on Jan. 4. Smith scored single digits in six of those games, and went scoreless in the upset of then-No. 1 Pittsburgh.

Smith also grabbed his second-highest single-game rebound total of the season (six).

After the game ITV caught up with Smith.

Q: How were you able to have such a big game, especially in the first half?

A: "I think it was mainly just the defense, what they were going to give us. They denied the post and my teammates just got me the ball in open spots.

"Tonight they fronted the low post and I was able to hit some shots."

Q: How much did getting layups off backdoor cuts allow you to get into the flow of the game?

A: "A lot. We knew they were going to deny the ball, coach just said, 'Go backdoor, don't even fight it.'"

Q: Is this the kind of game you've been waiting for?

A: "I wouldn't say I've been waiting for it, it's all about winning games. We've had a great run in January, we haven't been beat in January, so we'll try to push it to February."

Q: You seemed more aggressive today, was that true?

A: "I just wanted to come with a lot of intensity, I haven't been playing with a lot of emotions out there. That's what I really wanted to do tonight, just play with as much emotion as I could."


Jerry Smith calls tonight's game vs.
UConn ' big'.

Q: Coach said West Virginia's strong second half might be better for this team in the long run, do you think that's true?

A: "I think so. If we beat them by 25 or 30 points we go down there with a different mindset, than we will now that the game was as close as it was. They made a helluva run, we were just lucky to come out with a win."

Q: What allowed you guys to close out the win?

A: "I think it was our defense. We didn't score for awhile that last stretch, I don't know what it was, but we didn't score at all really down the stretch. So it was really our defense that was key."

Q: Do you think that finish will help you Monday night against Connecticut?

A: "I hope so. We can go and practice tomorrow and really focus in for UConn."

Q: What do you know about UConn?

A: "We know they're just a terrific team and we're going to get into practice (Sunday) and see what they're going to come with.

"We've watched them a little bit. They're a great team and we know that, we've just got to focus in on film and get after it."

Q: What makes UConn so great?

A: "All around you can't pick one certain thing. They've got great depth, they've got a terrific big man, great guard play, just all-around a terrific team."

Q: It could be a chance to beat another No. 1-ranked team, right?

A: "That's what we're hoping. That'd be big (beating) two No. 1's in one season."

Q: Do you guys treat this as a regular game or something special since it'll be Big Monday against a No. 1-ranked team?

A: "We treat it as a regular Big East game for us. We're trying to accomplish a much bigger goal than beating a No. 1 team, but it's a regular Big East game. We know they're great, we've just got to come with it."


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