It’s been a difficult week for No. 14 Louisville.
The Cardinals suffered a 73-66 loss in Lexington to rival Kentucky. It only go worse on Monday when head coach Rick Pitino that forward Chane Behanan had been dismissed from the team. In addition to Behanan’s dismal, Pitino said junior guard Kevin Ware will likely redshirt this season.
Louisville responded to a challenging week with a 90-65 thrashing of Central Florida on the road to begin American Athletic Conference play on New Year’s Eve.
Russ Smith led all scorers with 24 points, connecting on six of Louisville’s season-high 14 threes. On the night, the Cards shot 52 percent from behind the arc against a pretty good perimeter defense. Smith had almost half of those threes with four more coming from Luke Hancock.
Hancock entered the game shooting a dismal 24 percent from behind the arc, including a 2-for-8 from deep against Kentucky. But the senior wing, who wore No. 32 for much of the game after his jersey was torn, connected on 4-of-9 from deep, scoring 16 points off the bench, the first time he registered double figures in five games.
He dealt with an injury for much of the preseason, which kept him out of the season opener. Despite struggling from behind the 3-point line, Hancock had remained aggressive offensively, drawing fouls, and getting to the free throw line. But when Hancock is stroking from deep, Louisville is a more dangerous team. Tuesday night was an indication that last season’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player is getting back to form.
Given the events of the last week, it couldn’t have come at a better time.