Russ Smith scored a career-high 42 points and established school records for points in a half and a postseason game as the Cardinals advanced to the championship of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Memphis.

Smith finished 14-of-22 from the floor in moving into sixth place on the all-time scoring list for second-seeded Louisville (28-5), which will meet Connecticut in Saturday's final. Montrezl Harrell contributed 12 points, five rebounds and four assists and Luke Hancock added 12 points and four boards.

TaShawn Thomas registered 13 points and eight rebounds and Brandon Morris scored 13 points for No. 6 seed Houston (17-16), which upset No. 3 Southern Methodist to reach the semifinals. Danuel House added 12 points and 13 boards and Jherrod Stiggers chipped in with 11 points.

The Cougars got to within 14 points on two occasions early in the second half, but that is the closest they would get as a 3-pointer from Hancock and a three-point play by Wayne Blackshear stretched the lead to 20 points. Smith scored his final points on a three-point play with 6:11 remaining that gave the Cardinals a 29-point lead.

The first half was all about Smith, who scored 27 points as the Cardinals went to the half with a 47-32 advantage. The senior, who made 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and 7-of-8 from the foul line, surpassed the mark of 26 points set by three players on the second of three free throws with 3:14 remaining.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Harrell put an exclamation mark on the first half with a pair of thunderous dunks in the final two minutes, including a one-handed dunk on an alley-oop from Terry Rozier. ... The Cardinals shot 44.1 percent in the first half and forced 10 turnovers by the Cougars, who went over seven minutes without a field goal as the Cardinals went from tied at 16 to up 36-18. ... Stephan Van Treese had five points, 10 rebounds and three steals for Louisville, which will be in search of its third straight conference tournament title.