Updated at: 12/08/2012 2:35 PM
By GARY GRAVES
(AP) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Russ Smith scored a career-high 31 points and No. 5 Louisville cruised past Missouri-Kansas City 99-47 on Saturday.
Smith was 12 of 18 from the field and 3 of 5 from 3-point range in surpassing his previous high of 30 last year against Kentucky. He led Louisville (8-1) in scoring for the sixth time in nine games.
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 one player scored for Louisville, which posted its highest point total this season.
Louisville’s defense stifled Missouri-Kansas City (4-5). Besides forcing 24 turnovers leading to 35 points, the Cardinals held the Kangaroos to 27 percent shooting, including four of 27 in the second half.
Louisville also outrebounded UMKC 47-33.
Nelson Kirksey and Trinity Hall led the Kangaroos with nine points each.
The Cardinals were coming off Tuesday’s 80-38 rout at the College of Charleston, a game in which they forced 27 turnovers and collected 18 steals while making just seven mistakes.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino probably would have been fine with a close win against a Cougars team that went 19-12 last season. But he was especially happy with the lopsided outcome in their first true road game this season.
Pitino’s wish coming into this game was getting the same kind of focus at home from his team, understandable considering the Cardinals overcame a slow start to beat Illinois State 69-66 here a week ago.
Louisville wasted no time making Pitino’s wish come true.
Smith quickly helped the Cardinals pick up where they left off on Tuesday, scoring his team’s first eight points and 14 of their first 26, contributing a couple of assists and steals as Louisville led by 17 after eight minutes.
Smith set the stage for solid shooting in the first half by the Cardinals, who hit 17 of their first 24 from the field and 20 of 33 (61 percent). Louisville’s effort included 4 of 7 from behind the arc.
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. One of the Cardinals’ best breaks came late in the first half as Ware stole a pass near the right baseline and fed it upcourt to Smith, who lobbed a nice pass to Hancock for the layup.
The versatile Smith also added seven rebounds.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)