Russ Smith Plays Big: Louisville Starts the Season with a Win over Manhattan

Jon HancockSenior Analyst INovember 11, 2012

Russ Smith with one of his five steals against Manhattan.
Russ Smith with one of his five steals against Manhattan.Jamie Rhodes-US PRESSWIRE

The University of Louisville Cardinals start the 2012-13 season with a victory at home over the Manhattan Jaspers, 79-51.

Both Louisville and Manhattan struggled in the first half to score. The Cardinals made just nine of their 25 shots, three of 12 from outside.

The Jaspers made just five of their 19 shots and also gave up 16 turnovers in the first half.

The Cardinals went into halftime leading, 28-19.

Junior guard Russ Smith led the Cardinals in scoring with 23 points. Defensively Smith gave Louisville a huge spark, as he put a good deal of pressure on Manhattan's guards. Smith had five steals in the game.

“Russ is tremendous because he is unguardable," UofL coach Rick Pitino said of Russ Smith after the game. "Now the only thing he really has to improve on is blocking his guy out, getting loose ball rebounds and off-the-ball defense. He is always looking for the steal."

Senior point guard Peyton Siva said of Russ Smith after the game: "He does so many different things. He can lock you up of defense and get steals. He is so quick and crafty that you can't guard him one-on-one."

Louisville was able to force 27 turnovers, with 16 steals in the game. The Cards scored 32 points off of turnovers in the game.

Peyton Siva led the Cardinals offense well with 10 points and 10 assists. Although, he did have five turnovers in 34 minutes of play.

Gorgui Dieng played less than two minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls. Dieng was able to contribute nine points, three rebounds and two assists in the second half.

Chane Behanan gave Louisville nine rebounds and eight points off the bench.

"We finally played some competition to help us improve," Pitino said after the game. "We are a low percentage defensive team and we hold people to low percentages. We were 14 of 20 on the break again tonight. When you shoot that type of percentage, you have to go get rebounds. We have to get our guards in there and stop leaking out.”

Manhattan was without their best player, George Beamon, who broke his ankle Friday during practice. Beamon was the Jaspers' leading scorer last season and was named to this year's preseason All-MAAC first team.

"We were practicing in a gym that wasn’t ours and he slipped and fractured his ankle," Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said about Beamon's injury. "So we couldn’t even have time to put in things or do anything different to adjust. Not that it would have made any difference. That Louisville team is very good and they were better than us today and they are going to be better than most teams.”

Manhattan's center, RaShawn Stores, led the Jaspers in scoring with 18, he also grabbed 15 rebounds.

Guard Michael Alvarado added 13 points for the Jaspers.

Louisville will play Samford Thursday night at home before traveling to the Bahamas for the Battle of Atlantis tournament.


Jon Hancock is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

You can follow Jon on Twitter @JonKYSportsCo.