LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The beards are safe. Not so the noses.
The No. 11 Louisville Cardinals, playing their third game since taking a vow not to shave until they lose, got 19 points from senior All-American guard Russ Smith and beat South Florida 80-54 in a sloppy game on Tuesday night at the KFC Yum! Center.
The noses? Senior forward Luke Hancock, who had 16 points, suffered a bloody nose on the first play of the game when he was clouted on a drive to the basket.
“We didn’t play well,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “Lets face it, we’re better than them. We didn’t shoot well. The same shots we hit the other night didn’t go in tonight. (Louisville was 3-of-18 on 3-point shots). But we did some things well. We moved the ball. We had 10 steals. I like the way we played.”
Having beaten South Florida (12-15, 3-11 American Athletic Conference) by 39 points in Florida 26 days ago, Louisville (22-4, 11-2) looked sloppy at times, letting USF cut a 30-14 lead to 30-21 late in the first half before regrouping. The Cardinals led 46-28 at halftime.
Evidence of Louisville’s lackadaisical play was South Florida hitting 10 of its first 15 shots from the field.
The Bulls then opened the second half with a 6-0 run as Louisville sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell picked up his third and fourth fouls 30 seconds into the half. The third foul came when he inadvertently ran into a USF player while coming down the court. When he threw up his hands, a technical was called, giving him four fouls.
Coach Rick Pitino promptly yanked him in favor of junior Wayne Blackshear, who proceeded to pick up his third and fourth fouls within a minute. He was replaced by freshman forward Akou Agau, and Pitino delivered a few choice words to his team during a subsequent timeout.
Whatever he said had an effect because the Cards went on a 29-13 run to lead 75-47.
“It was a shame Montrezl got into foul trouble,” Pitino said. “He was having a good game (12 points in the first half).”
Senior forward Victor Rudd led South Florida with 27 points. He was the only USF player in double figures.
The Bulls made 11-of-19 shots from the field in the first half (58 percent) and finished 22-of-45 (48.9 percent). Louisville made 34-of-71 (47.9 percent).
The Cardinals had a 36-30 edge in rebounding and 10 steals to the Bulls’ two.
Louisville senior center Stephan Van Treese had eight rebounds and junior point guard Chris Jones added three steals.
Harrell finished with 14 points and had three dunks, setting a school season record with 62.
“It’s pretty amazing a sophomore sets that record after playing limited minutes as a freshman,” Pitino said. “I would have thought that Dr. Dunkenstein (Darrell Griffith, star of the 1980 national title team) would have set that record by a mile.”
Louisville freshman reserve guard Terry Rozier had 13 points, his second double-figure game in a row.
Pitino expressed happiness with the way the Cardinals, who won their fifth game in a row, are improving.
“I like the way we’re playing basketball,” he said. “Low turnovers, high assists. Our defense is getting better. We’re playing the way you have to play to win in March.”
NOTES: Louisville will play next at Cincinnati on Saturday at noon. The Cards trail the No. 7 Bearcats by one game in the loss column in the American Athletic Conference. UC won 69-66 at Louisville on Jan. 30. … South Florida has eight days off before entertaining No. 21 Connecticut on Feb. 26. UConn beat visiting USF 83-40 on Feb. 12. … USF junior point guard Anthony Collins missed his 17th straight game because of left knee soreness. He also missed the first two games of the season. In the eight games he played, he averaged 6.9 points and 5.9 assists. … Louisville is playing is third game in five days.
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