Russ Smith scores 24 points to lead No. 7 Louisville past Temple 88-66 for 7th straight win

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Russ Smith had 24 points, moving into ninth place on Louisville's career scoring list, and the seventh-ranked Cardinals throttled Temple 88-66 on Thursday night.

Montrezl Harrell added 21 points and freshman Terry Rozier scored a career-high 19 as Louisville capped a perfect February with its seventh straight victory. The trio combined to shoot 25 of 34 from the field and nearly outscored Temple all by themselves.

Five days after drawing within a half-game of first-place Cincinnati with a road win over the Bearcats, the Cardinals (24-4, 13-2 American Athletic Conference) followed up by completing a season sweep of the outmanned Owls (7-20, 2-13).

Will Cummings scored 18 points and Quenton DeCosey added 17 for the Owls. Temple has lost 15 of 17 since New Year's Day, including an eight-game losing streak to start 2014.

After Temple scored the opening basket, the Cardinals clicked off a 13-0 run that established their dominance. They were quickly up 24-6 just more than 7 minutes into the game before Temple responded with a 7-0 spurt that cut the Louisville lead to single digits.

The Owls again pulled within nine on Cummings' baseline jumper with 5:34 left in the first half, the closest they would come the rest of the game. Smith and Cummings led their teams with 13 points each at the break as Louisville led 42-29 at halftime.

Louisville was even better in the second half, stretching its 67-47 lead with 9:55 left to 28 points in less than 2 minutes. The Cardinals' largest lead was 29 with 1:15 remaining before Temple scored the final seven points.

Louisville held Dalton Pepper, Temple's lone senior and leading scorer at more than 17 points per game, to two points in the first 20 minutes. He finished with 10.

Most important for the Cardinals was avoiding a letdown following a big victory that positioned them to shuffle the league race in the final weeks. And with Louisville looking to avenge an earlier loss to No. 21 Memphis on Saturday, it needed a good tuneup in the process.

Despite routing Temple 82-58 in the earlier meeting, Louisville coach Rick Pitino stressed the importance of taking the Owls seriously because they followed that loss with a 71-64 upset of then-No. 23 SMU two days later. In fact, Temple has used this recent five-game stretch against ranked teams, a first in school history, to play some of its best ball of the season.

The Owls were coming off of Saturday's 82-79 overtime loss at Memphis, a game in which they offset 41 percent shooting by hitting 11 shots from 3-point range. And Temple still posed a threat with four starters averaging at least 13.8 points per game, with Pepper leading the way.

Harrell came in as the AAC's player of the week and on an impressive run featuring six double-doubles in his past 12 games. One of those efforts was a 22-point, 10-rebound outing against Temple on Feb. 14, when he added four blocks in the victory in Philadelphia.