Cards win 9th in 10 games with 26-point victory over South Florida

mmaloney@herald-leader.comFebruary 18, 2014 

So Florida Louisville Basketball

Louisville Coach Rick Pitino

GARRY JONES — AP

  • NCAA TOURNAMENT

    Louisville vs. Wichita State/Kentucky winner

    When: TBA
    Where: Indianapolis
    Radio: WMKJ-FM 105.5 Lexington
    TV: TBA
    Records: Louisville 31-5 (15-3 AAC)

LOUISVILLE — Russ Smith scored 19 points and moved into the school's top 10 all-time scorers Tuesday as 11th-ranked Louisville throttled South Florida 80-54 in the KFC Yum Center.

Smith passed Billy Thompson and Wes Unseld on U of L's career list and now is three points shy of 1,700 in his career.

Luke Hancock added 16 points for the Cardinals.

Montrezl Harrell had 14 points, including four dunks. With 63 dunks, he is U of L's single-season leader in that department. He started the night tied for first with Pervis Ellison and Chane Behanan.

Terry Rozier came off the bench to add 13 points.

Playing its third game in five days, U of L (22-4, 11-2 American Athletic) won its fifth game in a row; it was their ninth win in 10 games.

South Florida (12-15, 3-11) has lost four in a row and nine of 11. The Bulls also fell to Louisville last month, 86-47.

South Florida's Victor Rudd led all scorers with 27 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds.

"We had enough possessions tonight," U of L Coach Rick Pitino said. "It was a possession game. Even though they were shooting a very high percentage in the first half (57.9), they only got 19 shots off. ... You can take a percentage like they had, but you can look at the amount of shots in the first half, and it was 35-19. It ended up 71-45, and that was the difference in the game."

Louisville finished 34-for-71 from the field (47.9 percent) to South Florida's 22-for-45 (48.9 percent).

Although this didn't look as smooth as Sunday's 102-54 rout of Rutgers, Pitino liked what he saw.

"Tonight you might think we didn't play as well because we didn't shoot the ball as well," he said. "If you break it down, there were open shots that didn't go in. The other night they did go in.

"But you still moved the basketball, you still did a lot of good things. You only turned it over eight times, you forced (20) turnovers, you had 10 steals and a lot of good things."

U of L, second in the nation in turnover margin at plus-6.7, outscored South Florida 20-10 in points off turnovers, and 56-26 in the paint.

Louisville never trailed, and was up 46-28 at halftime.

Harrell led the first-half barrage with 12 points, half of them on dunks.

The Bulls scored the first six points of the second half to pull within 12 points, but that's as close as they would come.

"I think we're playing pretty good basketball right now," Pitino said. "We're going to continue to get better. I think February is the time to get better, March is the time to win, and I think we're doing that (getting better)."

Louisville played all but seven minutes of the second half without Harrell, who picked up his third foul plus a technical 39 seconds into the period.

The bench came through, though. In addition to Rozier, the Cards got nine points and six rebounds from Mangok Mathiang and seven points from Wayne Blackshear.

"We're starting to play the right type of basketball now," Pitino said. "High number of assists, low number of turnovers and, by and large, pretty good defense."

Notes

■ Smith is 26 points behind Herbert Cook for ninth place on U of L's all-time scoring list.

■ Following his first single-digit scoring effort of the season, Smith led U of L in scoring for the 12th time this season.

■ With two steals, Smith moved into a tie for second place on U of L's career list with Darrell Griffith at 230. Smith is 24 behind first-place Peyton Siva.

■ Harrell stands fifth on U of L's career dunk list. The sophomore has 107.

■ Hancock scored in double figures for a 13th consecutive game.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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