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Tudor: Card guard Smith next big challenge for Duke defense

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But during the last six games, Russ Smith has averaged 23.2 points, including a 31-point explosion in Friday's 77-69 NCAA Midwest semifinal win over Oregon in Indianapolis. But during the last six games, Russ Smith has averaged 23.2 points, including a 31-point explosion in Friday's 77-69 NCAA Midwest semifinal win over Oregon in Indianapolis.

The biggest different between the Louisville team that Duke will face Sunday and the one Duke beat 76-71 on Nov. 24 is simply the play of Cardinal guard Russ Smith.

In that November game _ played in the Bahamas Battle 4 Atlantis tourney _ Duke held the 6-foot-1 junior guard to 17 somewhat harmless points.

But during the last six games, Smith has averaged 23.2 points, including a 31-point explosion in Friday's 77-69 NCAA Midwest semifinal win over Oregon in Indianapolis.

"He looks unstoppable right now," said Oregon coach Dana Altman. "When he got going, we didn't have an answer."

The regionally 22nd-seeded Blue Devils (30-5) ousted Michigan State 71-61 in Friday's second game at Lucas Oil Field to set Sunday's  5:05 p.m. game against Rick Pitino's top-seeded Cards (32-5) for a ticket to next weekend's Atlanta Final Four.

Along with 6-foot senior Peyton Siva, Louisville's guard starters are a virtual copy of Duke's Seth Curry (6-2) and Quinn Cook (6-1).

In the November game, Curry and 6-4 freshman Rasheed Sulaimon did most of the defensive work against Smith, who missed 12 of his 19 field-goal attempts.

Cook wound up being voted most outstanding player of the Bahamas event after scoring 15 points, plus six assists, against the Cards.

Sunday's winner in Indianapolis will face the West Regional survivor _ Wichita State or Ohio State _ on April 6 in the Georgia Dome. The Blue Devils beat Ohio State 73-68 on Nov. 28 in Durham.

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