NEW YORK (AP) — Russ Smith scored 28 points in a bittersweet homecoming, leading No. 4 Louisville into the Big East tournament semifinals with a 74-55 victory over Villanova on Thursday night only hours after the death of his esteemed high school coach.
Smith and the defending champion Cardinals (27-5) harassed Villanova into 25 turnovers and advanced to play Notre Dame or Marquette in the late game Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Luke Hancock added 12 points off the bench for second-seeded Louisville, which has won eight straight — seven by at least 14 points. Peyton Siva, the tournament MVP last year, scored 10.
JayVaughn Pinkston had 21 points for the seventh-seeded Wildcats (20-13), confident they’ll receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament Sunday thanks to a string of high-profile wins against top-notch opponents this season. Mouphtaou Yarou added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
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