PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Sophomore forward Wayne Blackshear is giving No. 11 Louisville a lift off the bench and starting to get Coach Rick Pitino excited.
Blackshear scored a career-high 19 points and hit a three-pointer to ignite a 23-2 run early in the second half that carried the Cardinals (19-4, 7-3 Big East) to a 68-48 victory over Rutgers on Wednesday.
Blackshear hit 7-for-11 from the field, including three from long range, in just 14 minutes.
"I think right now he has improved his shooting tremendously," Pitino said after the Cardinals beat Rutgers (12-9, 3-7) for the seventh straight time.
"The last hurdle for him was putting the ball on the deck and getting better with his handle so he can run pick-and-rolls. Once he gets that; (he's a) great defender, rebounder and really good passer and smart kid; once he gets that, look out."
Blackshear had a chance over the past week to look at his game after spraining his right shoulder in practice. He watched tapes and saw he was settling for too many three-pointers.
"When I came back to practice I was in a different mode," Blackshear said. "I started attacking and it carried over to both games."
Blackshear had nine points, four rebounds and two steals in a win over Marquette last weekend, and he was even better against Rutgers.
Russ Smith added 14 points and six rebounds, and fellow guard Peyton Siva had nine points and seven assists as the Cardinals held Rutgers to a season-low point total.
It was the seventh time they have held an opponent under 50 points this season.
"We just put the pressure on those guys," Smith said. "We came out lax early, so the second half coming out of the locker room, we decided to turn up the energy a little bit."
Gorgui Dieng added eight rebounds and six blocked shots for the Cardinals.
Eli Carter had 13 points and Myles Mack 12 to lead Rutgers (12-9, 3-7). The Scarlet Knights have lost five in a row and six of seven.
Louisville, which had lost three in a row before its current winning streak, blew the game open in the first eight-plus minutes of the second half, taking a 21-point lead.
"I think we have a long ways to go still," Siva said. "This is the Big East and you can go on a three-game losing streak whenever. We just got to continue to keep our heads straight and focus on the next game."
Wally Judge tied the game at 28 for the Scarlet Knights with a dunk on their first possession of the second half, and then it was all Louisville.
Blackshear, who twice scored 18 points this season, broke the tie with a three-pointer and Siva quickly stretched the lead to six with another long-range shot.
Rutgers, which went 4:07 without a point, saw Blackshear add two free throws to push the lead to 36-28. Chane Behanan made it nine with a free throw. Then Smith and Siva had steals in the backcourt to set up two free throws by Smith and a rebound follow by Dieng for a 41-28 advantage.
No. 11 Louisville at No. 25 Notre Dame
When: Saturday, 9 p.m. (ESPN)