Luke Hancock clutch as No. 12 Louisville holds off SMU

Luke Hancock clutch as No. 12 Louisville holds off SMU

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 12: Luke Hancock #24 of the Louisville Cardinals grabs a rebound during the game against the SMU Mustangs at KFC YUM! Center on January 12, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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by Associated Press

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 5:28 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Luke Hancock's career-high 23 points, including two free throws with 46 seconds remaining, helped No. 12 Louisville hold off SMU for a 71-63 victory Sunday in a meeting of Hall of Fame coaches.

Hancock's second straight 20-point game helped Rick Pitino's Cardinals (14-3, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) get the final word in his first collegiate matchup against Larry Brown and his Mustangs (11-4, 1-2).

Making his first start despite dealing with a left Achilles issue, the senior guard made 8 of 15 from the field -- 4 of 9 from 3-point range -- to help keep Louisville ahead in a tense game that Montrezl Harrell finally settled with a dunk and a block after Hancock's free throws.

Russ Smith scored 23 points and Harrell added 12 points and 13 rebounds as Louisville bounced back from Thursday's loss to No. 24 Memphis with 47 percent shooting, despite being outrebounded 48-35 including 20-6 on the offensive end.

Markus Kennedy had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first start of the season for SMU while Shawn Williams added 10 points. Although the Mustangs controlled the boards, they managed to hit just 24 of 65 from the field (a season-low 37 percent), well below their league-best 50 percent mark coming in.

SMU made just 13 of 25 free throws and were only 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.

Hancock, Smith and Terry Rozier combined for nine of Louisville's 10 3-pointers on 23 attempts.

The biggest attraction was the first-ever collegiate meeting between Hall of Famers Pitino and Brown, who brought 2,554 combined victories and three NCAA titles into the contest. Sunday marked the third of eight scheduled matchups nationwide between Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame members, and these two will meet again on March 5 when the Cardinals face the Mustangs in Dallas.

Pitino, who just entered the Hall in September, made a point of heading down the sideline to greet Brown, 73, as the two exchanged pleasantries. From there it was all business between two schools fighting to contend in the AAC.

SMU was playing for the first time since upsetting then-No. 17 Connecticut on Jan. 4 and seeking its second straight win against a ranked opponent. Besides having the AAC's best shooting outfit, the Mustangs also had the No. 2 field goal defense (36 percent), both of which presented challenges for a Cardinals team that was out of sync on both ends of the court in Thursday's loss to No. 24 Memphis.

But SMU also entered without 6-foot-11 center Yanick Moreira, out 2 to 3 weeks after spraining his right medial collateral ligament on Friday. Brown started the 6-9 Kennedy for the first time in his place, a move that led Pitino to start Hancock for the first time this season in an attempt to match up with the Mustangs' beefier lineup.

Louisville's switch yielded better shooting results as the Cardinals hit 25 of 53 from the field, the best the Mustangs have allowed this season. Their 3-point accuracy was especially critical in a game in which SMU controlled the inside 34-28, points off turnovers (16-13), second-chance points (18-3) and bench scoring (24-8).

Smith's 15 points helped Louisville lead 37-25 at halftime.

Harrell's free throw with 2:29 remaining, Smith's drive through several defenders for a layup 27 seconds later and a free throw with 1:16 left put Louisville up 67-58.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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