Style points mattered less to Louisville than achieving the bottom line of bouncing back from a tough loss.

Such was the saving grace of a victory featuring fits and starts.

Russ Smith scored 27 points and Luke Hancock added 16 to help No. 12 Louisville pull away from Central Florida 87-70 on Saturday night.

Despite several rough spots that allowed the Knights to stay close, the Cardinals (18-4, 7-2 American Athletic Conference) stayed safely ahead by making 52 percent (32 of 62) from the field. Smith's 9-of-14 shooting included a pair of 3-pointers and led the way for Louisville.

"I think once you get on a roll you really need to step on teams and make your run and it's something we're really going to have to work on," said Hancock, who went 5 of 9 from the floor before fouling out late in the game. "We've got some younger guys that have got to learn some lessons about staying in it and staying productive and keeping our run going. ...

"It's going to be a little up and down, but we're starting to come together."

Montrezl Harrell had 14 points and seven rebounds and Wayne Blackshear added 10 points in his first start in five games as Louisville bounced back from Thursday night's loss to No. 13 Cincinnati.

Tristan Spurlock scored 20 points for UCF (9-10, 1-7), but he and leading scorer Isaiah Sykes (eight points on 2-of-12 shooting) spent nearly seven minutes of the second half on the bench with four fouls each. Both returned with 6½ minutes remaining but Spurlock didn't take another shot and made just two free throws with 56 seconds left.

"It's something that happened. I had to deal with it," Spurlock said of the foul trouble. "It was tough for us. I felt like it really hurt us as a team. It took us out of it a little bit. You've just got to deal with it. It's basketball."