LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Wayne Blackshear scored a career-high 23 points in his first game this season as a reserve, and No. 18 Louisville used a strong offensive start to blow out Houston 91-52 on Thursday night.
Recent foul troubles led Cardinals coach Rick Pitino to bring Blackshear off the bench to maximize his effectiveness, and the junior forward responded by shooting 5 of 6 from 3-point range and 8 of 10 overall. Louisville hit 15 of 28 from beyond the arc, its highest total since making 17 against Morgan State on Dec. 27, 2010.
Hot shooting was the story as the Cardinals (15-3, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) put this one away quickly and thoroughly in the first half by hitting 11 of 15 from 3-point range (73 percent) and shooting 70 percent (21 of 30) overall. They cooled off later but still finished 34 of 66 (52 percent).
Russ Smith added 18 points and Luke Hancock 10 to hand Houston (10-7, 2-2) its second straight loss. It was the Cougars' most lopsided defeat since a 110-63 loss at No. 12 Washington on Dec. 24, 2004, according to STATS.
Blackshear also grabbed seven rebounds as part of his career night. The Cardinals missed their first eight 3s of the second half before Blackshear hit three straight from long range to put Louisville up 82-44 with 5 minutes left.
TaShawn Thomas had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Houston, which shot 31 percent. Jherrod Stiggers added 14 points and six rebounds for the Cougars.
The lopsided outcome was unusual for a Houston squad used to playing close AAC games, with a 61-60 loss to Cincinnati nine days ago being the most recent. Highlighting the Cougars' solid league start coming in was a 75-71 win over then-No. 17 Connecticut and a victory at South Florida.
Not bad considering Houston had missed four starters for 19 combined games coming in because of injuries. The Cougars welcomed back sophomore forward Danuel House (15.6 points per game) after a nine-game absence because of knee surgery and sophomore guard L.J. Rose (10.1), who had missed the past five with a foot injury.
Terry Rozier started for Louisville in place of point guard Chris Jones, who injured a muscle on his side Sunday against SMU. Hancock also started a second straight game in the backcourt in hopes of generating more offense.
Every lineup combination worked for Louisville and especially Blackshear, who looked comfortable while scoring nine first-half points.
Then again, it was easy for Blackshear and others to get in the flow with Louisville hitting from almost everywhere in building a 57-28 halftime lead. Five consecutive 3-pointers quickly broke it open in a first half in which the Cardinals made their most 3s in any half since hitting 13 against Hartford on Nov. 17, 2007.
Houston didn't help itself by going scoreless for the final 8 minutes of the half and the first 3:08 of the second before Thomas scored following a shot fake. That made it 61-32, but the Cougars were down by 39 with just under 3 minutes left.