Luke Hancock finally hitting his stride

Luke Hancock

University of Louisville senior Luke Hancock is out of his slump. Hancock has turned in back-to-back solid games for the Cardinals and is starting to find his stride after a career-high 23 points in Sunday's 71-63 win over SMU. Cardinal Authority has the latest on the Final Four MVP and his slump.

Luke Hancock knew it was just a matter of time.

The senior guard at the University of Louisville kept telling reporters he felt fine physically. He talked about his hot streaks shooting the ball in practice.

But until the last two games, Hancock hadn't done it in a game this season. With an Achilles injury that slowed him in the late summer and fall, Hancock was just 30 of 86 from the field through the first 14 games of the season.

"I felt fine," Hancock said. "I was making everything in practice and then I would get into a game and couldn't make it. It just took me a while.

"I just felt like I was a little off."

Now, Hancock is finally hitting his stride.

He's hit 14 field goals in two games – six against Memphis and eight against SMU on Sunday – after hitting more than four just once this season. He had five against Central Florida on New Year's Eve.

"Not until the last two games has Luke been 100 percent," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "Now he is not 100 percent defensively, but that has nothing to do with his Achilles. He's playing a lot better.

"We started running a lot of turnout plays for Luke this week. He is not only the best shooter and free throw shooter but he is also the best passer. If he doesn't have it, he will throw the ball inside at 6-5.

Hancock had 20 points, five assists and five rebounds – and was one of the only bright spots – in a loss last Thursday to Memphis. On Sunday, Hancock scored 19 of his career-high 23 points in the second half of a 71-63 win.

"I'm starting to feel a little better on the court," Hancock said. "It's more than anything, just getting into rhythm. It really is just that.

"I felt good physically a while ago, but it just takes time to get back into it."

Hancock is averaging 10.5 points a game and with a team struggling to find some leadership, Pitino is hoping he can help the Cardinals with what the coach wants to see – "unbridled enthusiasm."

It was the first time Hancock had started all season, against Memphis. He was in the lineup when Pitino went with a smaller lineup.

"Luke's a big key for us," Pitino said recently. "But I'm not worried about Luke. I know he's going to come around and be just fine."

Hancock said he hopes the recent streak continues and he believes it will if the team keeps playing the way it did against SMU.

"Russ has been looking for me lately and we're teaming up really well," Hancock said. "And the same with Montrezl Harrell. If I keep working off my teammates and keep them involved, then it gets me involved.

"I feel pretty good right now about where I'm at."

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