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No. 14 Louisville hangs on to beat Rutgers
Piscataway, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) - Russ Smith scored 22 points and No. 14 Louisville held on to beat Rutgers 83-76 on Saturday.
Luke Hancock added 15 points, Terry Rozier had 14 and Wayne Blackshear scored 13 for the Cardinals (13-2, 2-0 American Athletic).
Myles Mack had 19 points and Craig Brown scored 17 for the Scarlet Knights (7-8, 1-1), who kept it close against the reigning NCAA champions but had a three-game winning streak snapped.
The game groaned along through 62 combined fouls and was marked by 36 combined turnovers.
"It was a game that I thought we competed pretty well," said Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan. "I just thought that we needed everyone to play well and at the top of their game, which we did not. A few guys, just a handful of guys, played at the top of their game. We need everybody to go in the game and play well.
"I was disappointed in the fact that we didn't handle their pressure as well as we could. (Louisville) pressures everybody. They do a good job. I thought we were prepared to handle it and to make more plays out of it, so there is disappointment, yet there are some things that we can learn from and move forward on."
Louisville, which opened conference play with a 25-point win over UCF on New Year's Eve after losing at Kentucky on Dec. 28, faced deficits of 7-0 and 12-4 and didn't take its first lead until there was 1:43 left in the first half.
A 15-4 run gave the Cardinals a 39-32 lead on two Rozier free throws in the final minute before the break and it was 39-33 going into the locker room.
A Smith free throw put Louisville up by 17 with 12 1/2 minutes left in the game. The Cardinals let Rutgers back in the game, but it never got closer than six the rest of the way.
"I think we did a very good job of getting back in the game with our press," said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "In the beginning, we got behind because we took some bad shots. They got some easy buckets. Then we started taking good shots and we got a lot of steals because of it."
Louisville guard Tim Henderson, a senior who's been with the team since 2010 as a walk-on and was given a scholarship this week for the spring semester, had two points in his first game since hearing the news.
The spot became available after Cardinals coach Rick Pitino announced Monday that forward Chane Behanan was dismissed from the basketball program and released from his scholarship due to repeated violations of university policy.
Smith had five of Louisville's 17 turnovers and Mack had six of Rutgers' 19 giveaways ... The Cardinals shot 43.5 percent and were just 2-for-10 from 3- point range ... Rutgers shot 41.4 percent.
01/04 23:45:32 ET
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