No. 3 Louisville rips South Florida, 64-38
By GARY GRAVES
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) South Florida coach Stan Heath called last season's win at Louisville the program's biggest since he arrived in 2007.
The Bulls couldn't repeat their performance on Saturday, losing 64-38 to the No. 3 Cardinals.
It was the lowest point total since 1997 for South Florida (9-6, 0-3 Big East), which used last year's 58-51 victory as a springboard to the NCAA tournament, the school's first appearance since 1992.
"That was a wow. They're really good," Heath said of the Cardinals. "I'm sure Rick (Pitino) had them fired up because we snuck out of here with one last year. They came to play; they weren't going to let something slip up again. We caught a full wrath."
South Florida scored just 15 points in a first half that saw Louisville sophomore forward Chane Behanan alone out-rebound the Bulls 12-10. Trailing by 23 at halftime, South Florida pulled within 48-28 with 10:41 remaining but got no closer.
Junior forward Victor Rudd led the Bulls, who shot a season-low 27 percent (12 of 45), with 10 points. Heath chose to start freshmen Zach LeDay and JaVontae Hawkins in place of regular starters Rudd and Jawanza Poland, citing a lack of effort in the Bulls' 63-51 loss to Villanova on Wednesday.
"It was hopefully a wake-up call," Heath said. "Obviously, that was a huge factor in the start of the game. I put two young bucks out there. It wasn't a nice thing for me to do to those guys but we are fighting an injury bug that is incredible."
"We just got off to that bad start, spotted them like 19 points, and we couldn't really come back from it," Rudd said. "I think in the second half, we fought hard."
The Bulls' poor shooting extended to free throws and 3-point attempts, hitting just 11 of 21 from the line and three of 17 behind the arc.
"Against a good team like Louisville, when you get those opportunities you've got to cash in at a high percentage, which we didn't," Heath said. "You just look at those two stats alone and I think you can come up with about 15 points that we left on the table."
South Florida hosted then-No. 7 Syracuse to start their Big East schedule and now has three conference losses. Rudd said catching such tough opponents early could be a boost later in the year.
"It's nice, especially for the young guys who haven't been in this position," he said. "I think we have a chance to still grind it out and get some key wins."
Senior guard Peyton Siva scored 17 points to surpass 1,000 for his career and contributed a team-high three steals for Louisville.
Center Gorgui Dieng added 12 points and 16 rebounds while forward Chane Behanan had 12 rebounds and seven points for the Cardinals, who won their 10th in a row. Behanan played just five days after injuring his left ankle in practice and missing Wednesday's victory against Seton Hall.
The Cardinals dominated the boards 49-24 including a 19-6 edge in offensive rebounds. All that defense helped draw attention from Louisville's 38 percent shooting.
Behanan added an alley-oop dunk on a lob from Siva to give Louisville a 19-3 lead that typified the Cardinals' first-half dominance. They led by as many as 25 before heading to the locker room with a 38-15 lead achieved mostly by relentless defense that made seven steals and forced 10 turnovers along with a whopping 30-10 rebounding edge including a 12-2 advantage offensively.
South Florida's poor shooting made some of those numbers possible. The Bulls shot just 23 percent in the first 20 minutes (five of 22) and made just two baskets in the first 10 minutes, resulting in a season low for first half points and their worst overall half since shooting 6 of 26 in the second half of a 58-53 loss to Western Michigan on Nov. 18.
The Cardinals stretched their lead to 30 with seven minutes remaining in the game.
Hawkins had nine points and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick seven for the Bulls.
Rudd was already looking forward to a rematch with the Cardinals in Tampa on Feb. 17.
"We'll see them again, so that's the good thing about it," Rudd said. "We've got another chance at Louisville."
Updated January 12, 2013