USA TODAY Sports
Russ Smith was the man again for Louisville on Wednesday night. The guard scored 17 points and joined the 1,000-point club as the Cardinals won their fourth straight.
Russ Smith became the 65th player in Louisville history to score 1,000 or more career points as the No. 10 Louisville Cardinals stayed in the thick of the Big East regular-season race with a 79-58 win over DePaul on Wednesday night.
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Smith had 17 points and six assists to lead the Cardinals, who have now won four straight games. Louisville is within a game of Georgetown for first place in the conference.
The Blue Demons actually scored the first eight points of the game before a pair of free throws from Smith got Louisville going. Just over a minute later, the Cardinals completed a 10-0 run and were in the driver's seat. Peyton Siva had two layups in the stretch to fuel the run.
DePaul kept it close for a while, but five straight points by Chane Behanan put Louisville up eight with 4:54 left in the first half, and the Cardinals never looked back. The lead grew to as many as 17 in the second half as the Cardinals refused to relinquish control.
Though Cardinal fans might not highlight DePaul on the schedule as a crucial game, this one was important for Louisville. The Cardinals close the regular season with games against Syracuse, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, and a loss to the cellar-dwelling Blue Demons would have been a tough way to go into such a difficult stretch.
DePaul, now just 2-13 in the Big East, was led by Brandon Young (22 points) and Cleveland Melvin (20 points). The Blue Demons visit South Florida on March 3 and will try to get back on track in Tampa.
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