The 14th-ranked Louisville Cardinals (12-2) turned their third straight road game into a one sided affair by dominating the Central Florida Knights (8-4). The Cards won the inaugural American Athletic Conference game 90-65 in Orlando.
The Knights hadn't played since defeating Valparaiso 90-62 on December 22. The Cardinals were coming off a loss to archrival Kentucky on December 28. Louisville played like a team that had something to prove.
The Cardinals made national headlines earlier this week when it was announced that junior forward Chane Behanan had been dismissed from the team. In addition to that, it was announced that Kevin Ware would seek a medical redshirt stemming from his gruesome leg injury last season against Duke.
Louisville had lost two experienced players this week which prompted some members of the media to write them off as Final Four contenders. The defending national champions adjusted quickly to life without Behanan and Ware. Louisville controlled the game from start to finish.
Even when UCF went on an impressive run to cut a 19 point deficit to nine at the half, it never felt like Louisville was in danger of losing this one.
UCF had made double-digit three-pointers in four consecutive games and was shooting 41 percent this season from beyond-the-arc. Louisville held them to three made threes and just 21.4 percent shooting from outside, 35 percent from the field.
The Knights ranked 20th in the nation in rebounds and at times gave Louisville problems on the glass. Unfortunately for the Knights, Louisville shot 54.8 percent from the field to negate the rebounding advantage.
This was the first of two meetings between these teams this season and just the second meeting all-time. Louisville won the only other meeting between these programs in 1999.
Isaiah Sykes was the only Knight in double figures, he scored 19 points and had nine rebounds. Russ Smith's 24 points and nine assist lead the way for the Cardinals. Montrezl Harrell, Luke Hancock and Terry Rozier all scored in double figures for Louisville.
Next for the Cardinals is a trip to Rutgers for their fourth straight road game. The Knights will stay in Orlando to host the Temple Owls. Louisville and UCF will play again February 1st in Louisville.
Instant reaction and analysis from the game is available below.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.