Smith rebounded Wednesday night in the Cardinals' 94-57 win over Oral Roberts. The 6-foot-2 senior guard from Wauwatosa, Wisc. scored 14 points in 18 minutes. Smith, who got the start at two-guard, made 6 of 9 shots, including 2 of 5 three-point tries, and also collected five rebounds. He added two assists and one big block against only one turnover. He also had the play of the night, when he and freshman forward Rakeem Buckles dunked in an alley-oop pass from Edgar Sosa in the second half.
ITV caught up with Smith in the locker room after the game.
Q: What was the difference tonight?
A: "We've been working hard in practice, that's the main thing we want to do, and just get better. We have lost two games in row and it's been tough, guys are having their heads down a little bit. We've just got to come with it in practice, and that's what we've got to get better at...We were focusing in on little things as well, having our hands up (and so on). It's not been major things (responsible) for the losses, but it's been the little things in those games that was causing those losses."
Q: The team seemed really ready to play tonight, is that true?
A: "I take that back to practice habits, we went back in after the two losses, and after the Western Carolina game, Monday everybody came in with a chip on their shoulder, worked unbelievably hard and we probably had our best practices of the year."
Q: You guys got off to a really good start, with runs of 13-0 and 11-0 early in the first half, what keyed that?
A: "We knew they had about eight guys or nine guys that actually dressed. We knew that we were going to be able to wear their guards down with our press and that's what we did. We were able to jump on them early and apply pressure...It was defensive intensity. Everybody came in tonight with the mindset, we're going to stop them tonight. From the three-point line mainly, that was our goal, and we were able to do that."
Q: You had a big block on a three-pointer in the first half, did that kind of energize you?
A: "A little bit, I was fired up and I really wanted to challenge it high and get a piece of it."
Q: How does this win help the team morale?
A: "It was major. Everybody can just finally smile a little bit and just get it out of the way now...It keeps everybody up a little bit, definitely going to be a little more positive now going into that game. They're a great team, they got us last year down in Tennessee, and we're going to get after it in practice the next few days to prepare for them, without a doubt."
Q: And how about that alley-oop from Sosa that you and Buckles seemed to both slam in?
A: "It was weird because I guess we both looked at Edgar at the same time and just thought he was going to us...he just threw it and we both just caught it and put it in...They gave it to Rakeem, but I guess you've got to give us both a point apiece."
Q: Sosa said it was for you, did you know that?
A: "No, Rakeem jumped, and we both just got it...I looked and was like, ‘Oh wow, we both caught it and dunked it."
Q: Have you ever seen something like that before?
A: "Never. Never in my life, I've never seen it in the NBA or college, I've never seen it before."
Q: What about Saturday's game against Western Kentucky?
A: "We're not overlooking them at all, and we're actually very hungry for this game."
Q: How much of a difference does it make to have everyone healthy, especially in practice?
A: "It's big because you can actually get a lot of great practices in that are actually going to help you in the games. I think that's what we've lacked these last two games, in practice guys weren't able to compete against each other. With me, Preston and Peyton back we've been able to do that."
Q: How do you know when it's been a good practice?
A: "When coach is not yelling as much (laughs). But you know, guys are talking, getting after it defensively, just competing and having fun. That's when we know it's a great practice, when everybody is upbeat and positive."