LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Russ Smith won't have to tweet any apologies after last night.
Smith, Louisville's leading scorer, got much of the blame for the Cardinals' 103-100 five-overtime loss at Notre Dame last Saturday. He made just 4 of 19 shots from the field and missed shots at the end of four of the overtime periods. Afterward, he tweeted an apology to fans for his bad play.
But last night, after a poor first half when he scored just three points and was 0 of 5 from the field, Smith lit it up in the second half, scoring 12 straight Louisville points during one stretch and finishing with 24 points as the 12th-ranked Cardinals beat St. John's 72-58.
Louisville improved to 20-5 and moved into a three-way tie for fourth place in the Big East at 8-4. St. John's, which lost for the third time in its last four games, fell to 15-10, 7-6 and is in serious danger of missing out on an NCAA Tournament bid.
Phil Greene IV paced St. John's with 21 points and D'Angelo Harrison had 18.
Louisville led 32-23 at halftime after the teams traded runs in the first 20 minutes. The Cardinals finished the half with an 8-0 run and had earlier runs of 11-0 and 8-0. St. John's had a run of 13-4.
The Red Storm had the first run of the second half, opening with a 10-0 spurt as the Cards went almost 5 1/2 minutes without a point. Wayne Blackshear hit two free throws with 14:36 left to put Louisville back in front at 35-34. Then Smith took over, scoring his team's next 12 points as Louisville took command. When Smith's spurt was over, the Cards led 46-38. St. John's got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
In the first half, Chane Behanan and Peyton Siva paced Louisville with eight points each, and Gorgui Dieng had six points and nine rebounds. The Cardinals held a 25-15 advantage on the boards.
Harrison had 13 points for the Red Storm at intermission, hitting 5 of 9 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 3-pointers.
As a team, St. John's hit only 9 of 26 shots from the field (34.6 percent) in the first half. Louisville wasn't much better, going 14 of 36 (38.9 percent), including 1 of 6 on treys.
NOTES: St. John's coach Steve Lavin missed his second straight game after the death of his father last Saturday. The university said Lavin was attending to family matters. The team was coached by assistant Rico Hines. Lavin missed all but four games last season while recovering from prostate surgery. ... The NCAA and NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) are unveiling a portrait of former Louisville coach Denny Crum as part of a celebration of 75 years of March Madness. Portraits of every coach who won a national title have been commissioned. Crum won two, in 1980 and '86. Two hundred fifty limited-edition reproductions of each portrait will be auctioned off after the season, with the proceeds to benefit the NABC Foundation.