Maybe Rick Pitino's most prized freshman is still on the roster after all.

Jerry Smith scored 22 points to go with a career-high 12 rebounds and Louisville looked just fine without wayward center Derrick Caracter in an 82-59 win over Miami on Saturday at Freedom Hall.

One day after Caracter _ considered the linchpin of what Pitino called one of his best recruiting classes ever _ was sent home to New Jersey indefinitely, the Cardinals (7-4) played with the kind of intensity and focus they've lacked much of the season.

Smith, who made his second start of the season as a reward from Pitino for the work he's done in practice, showed he might be in the starting lineup to stay. Smith credited Pitino's vote of confidence with helping him get over what has been an erratic first month of the season.

"It gave me a lot of confidence that hard work was paying off," Smith said. "I just wanted to step up to the plate."

If Caracter's fellow freshmen teammates were upset at his sudden departure, it didn't show on the floor. Smith, Edgar Sosa and Earl Clark combined for 39 points as the Cardinals cruised behind an offense that finally clicked. Louisville shot 50 percent from the floor and made 10 3-pointers.

"It's much easier when you shoot well," Pitino said. "We did a lot of good things on the defensive end. Our only negative thing was turnovers. We turned it over too many times."

But Miami could do little with Louisville's 19 turnovers and had no answer for Smith or Terrence Williams, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

"We needed our big people to play better and that didn't happen," said Miami coach Frank Haith.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, seemed at peace without Caracter, heeding Pitino's advice to move on instead of wonder what happened to the 6-foot-8 center who struggled to fit into Pitino's plans.

"It hasn't affected the guys," Pitino said. "They want the best for him and wish him the best."

"It's never easy to lose a player," said Louisville center David Padgett. "We've got to do a job and that's win basketball games. It was tough to see someone go. We're here to play basketball, that's all our focus."

Dwayne Collins led the Hurricanes (7-6) with 17 points and eight rebounds, but Miami had trouble with Louisville's press and could never get into a rhythm offensively.

Miami guard Jack McClinton entered the game averaging 19.6 points per game, tops in the ACC. But McClinton missed his first six shots from the field and didn't score until less than 10 minutes remained. He finished with nine points.

"We just wanted to wear him out, dog him, trap him," Pitino said of McClinton.

It was Smith that did much of the dogging. As impressive as his 22 points were, Smith was even better on the other end of the floor. He shadowed McClinton most of the night and showcased why even at 6-foot-1 he's one of the team's better rebounders as he squeezed between bigger bodies to get the ball despite playing with a bandage over his right eye after getting hit in the head.

"What's so impressive tonight (is) he had those numbers and he was exhausted doing it," Pitino said. "You can't play that type of defense, rebound like that and still shoot like that. You know you are a pretty good basketball player when you accomplish that feat."

Louisville opened the game on a 13-2 run and never let the Hurricanes into the game. With Smith hitting from outside and the Cardinals dominating the boards, Miami had little chance to bounce back from a disheartening loss to Binghamton at home earlier in the week.

"We had some opportunities that we passed up and opted for a more difficult shot," Haith said. "They did a really good job on (McClinton) and knowing where he was at all times."

While Caracter struggled to adhere to Pitino's exacting standards, it's Smith's work ethic that has endeared him to his coach and rubbed off on his teammates.

"He doesn't talk a lot, he just brings it," Williams said. "He gives us a lift when he hits the 3. He plays within himself. You have to do that to be a great basketball and I'm learning that."


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