No. 5 Louisville beats Missouri-Kansas City, 99-47
Missouri-Kansas City coach Matt Brown said the key to his team putting together its first winning streak this season is simple: stop playing the nation's best teams.
Since dropping its opener at Seton Hall, UMKC has alternated wins and losses. That pattern continued with Saturday's 99-47 loss at No. 5 Louisville.
The Kangaroos also lost 91-45 at then-No. 3 Ohio State on Nov. 23.
''We need to stop playing top five teams, that'd be the first thing,'' said Brown, whose team was coming off Wednesday's 73-70 win at North Dakota.
''Obviously, it's good for recruiting because the kids want to play against the best kids. It's a great opportunity to raise revenue and it makes it us better for league play. Once we get into league play we should be much better.''
UMKC had an especially tough time against the Cardinals, scoring just 14 field goals and committing 24 turnovers. The Kangaroos converted just four of 27 shots in the second half.
''That's what Louisville's known for, their pressure defense. They ran their defense to perfection,'' UMKC junior forward Trinity Hale said. Hale and Nelson Kirksey led UMKC with nine points each.
Hale said his team can only improve after facing some of college basketball's powerhouses. Consistently executing fundamentals such as boxing out for a rebound will help build the team's elusive win streak.
''The little things are what's going to make it from win-one, lose-one to win-one, win-one and start stringing up wins together,'' he said.
Brown said the road games against top opponents are focused on grooming his team for league play and a chance at a NCAA tournament bid.
''In the Summit League, it's a one-bid league,'' he said. ''The more I can prepare our kids to play the best teams we can without injury, which we did today, and hopefully do well in our league, that's all it comes down to.''
Following its 52-point loss, UMKC has a three-game homestand, including Iowa State on Dec. 22, before another tough road test at Kansas State.
''I told the guys, the only better team we can play from here is No. 1,'' Brown said. ''We've played No. 3 and No. 5.''
Russ Smith scored a career-high 31 points to lead Louisville. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Luke Hancock added 15 points and six rebounds, and Montrezl Harrell a career-high 14 points with seven rebounds for the Cardinals, who shot 56 percent in winning their third in a row.
All but two players scored for Louisville, which posted its highest point total this season.
Louisville also outrebounded UMKC 47-33.
''They do different things,'' Brown said of Louisville's defense. ''Sometimes it's man-to-man, sometimes it's zone, sometimes there is a guy on the ball, and sometimes there is a guy off the ball. They give you so many different looks.''
Smith was part of those multiple looks by the Cardinals and he quickly got them going on offense.
He scored his team's first eight points and 14 of their first 26. He added a couple of assists and steals in the first eight minutes as Louisville led by 17.
Louisville's defense played a big role in building the big lead as well.
Entering the game ranked eighth in turnover margin (8.9), the Cardinals harassed the Kangaroos into 10 in the first 10 minutes, and 16 by halftime.
That pressure led to a lot of transition baskets and 25 points for Louisville, which led 53-28 at halftime.