No. 13 Louisville hits 16 3s, routs Rutgers 102-54
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)
Louisville turned all those open looks on the perimeter into a 3-point shooting clinic that even included a little-used freshman.
The Cardinals (21-4, 10-2 American Athletic Conference) made a season-high 16 shots from beyond the arc on 30 attempts for their fourth straight win, completing a season sweep of the Scarlet Knights (10-16, 4-9). Louisville shot 56 percent overall in posting its biggest win this season.
Freshman guard Terry Rozier added a career-high 16 points, hitting four 3s, and Wayne Blackshear scored 10 with a couple of 3-pointers. Russ Smith, Chris Jones, Tim Henderson and freshman reserve David Levitch also made long-range shots in a game that quickly became lopsided.
''It felt great,'' said Hancock, who went 7 of 9 from the field and 5 of 6 at the free throw line. ''We had some really good looks early and guys hit their first couple of shots and then it was kind of, everybody was in rhythm. You saw the ball go in, even if it wasn't for you.''
The Cardinals' last scheduled conference game against Rutgers ended with them dominating on the boards (39-24) while forcing 18 turnovers that led to 23 points. The Scarlet Knights shot just 35 percent in falling to 1-13 against Louisville, which had 23 assists to 10 for Rutgers.
''When you shoot the ball well and don't turn it over and play hard, it makes your defense better,'' Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said. ''It makes you play better in all phases of the game. So, I'm really excited about the victory.''
Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack each scored 10 points for Rutgers, which is headed to the Big Ten next season while Louisville goes to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The game matched two teams on different trajectories. The Cardinals were looking to maintain momentum as they prepare for Saturday's rematch at first-place Cincinnati, while the Scarlet Knights were trying to break out of the bottom half of the standings.
Despite entering with a split of its past four games, including a 23-point rout of Houston, Rutgers faced a huge hurdle against the third of four ranked opponents in a five-game stretch. Louisville came in leading the nation in scoring margin (20.1) and had won its last three by an average of nearly 19 points.
But unlike last month's meeting in New Jersey that Louisville won 83-76 by making 41 of 46 free throws, the Cardinals did their damage from beyond the arc this time, with Hancock and Rozier thriving in particular.
Smith (seven points) and Hancock started it off by hitting from long range. Jones followed with a perimeter jumper that was initially ruled a 3 before a replay review showed his foot was on the line. But that hardly bothered the Cardinals, who just kept firing from outside en route to a 43-24 halftime lead.
Rozier needed only a half to match his previous career high of 14 points set last month against Rutgers as he went 4 of 6 from 3-point range and 5 of 9 overall from the field. Louisville shot 52 percent in the first half, including 7 of 14 on 3-pointers.
''Anybody can get beat on any given night,'' said Rozier, who finished 6 of 13 from the floor. ''That's why we wanted to take care of business from the jump.''
A game that was already a rout at the break quickly became a laugher as Louisville made its first five 3-pointers in the second half, with Hancock hitting back-to-back shots in a 21-0 run that made it 69-27. With no answers for Louisville's onslaught, Rutgers could only watch as the Cardinals' lead reached 48 points with 31 seconds left.
''When you can't answer back, their confidence and mojo is at a high,'' Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said. ''They hit a 3 and jump shots on the break. Their confidence was riding high. We didn't get back well enough.''