The pregame word of the day was tempo as the #3 University of Louisville Cardinals (15-1, 3-0) welcomed the University of South Florida Bulls (9-6, 0-3) into the KFC Yum! Center Saturday afternoon for a Big East Conference match up. The Cards weren’t exactly gracious hosts as they destroyed an overmatched USF 64-38.
South Florida’s Stan Heath talked about how the Cards try to speed things up and goad their opponents into quick shots and mental mistakes. He also thought Louisville would be an angry team because these Bulls ended UofL’s regular season with a Cardinal loss on Senior Day last year. On the other hand, coach Rick Pitino reminded his team that USF plays a very ball control style of offense.
The game ended up being a nightmare for South Florida as the Cardinals beat them down hard and fast from the opening tip and didn’t trail the entire game. The Louisville defense smothered the Bulls to the point where USF was in danger of not even reaching double digits on the scoreboard before halftime. Coach Pitino noticed and after the game said, “We’re getting a lot better at the defensive end and that pleases me.”
The Cards held South Florida to 22.7% shooting in the first half. And the defense bothered them so much that the Bulls only shot 33.3% from the free throw line. That’s intimidation. Things only got marginally better in the second half as USF increased their field goal percentage to 26.7%.
And on a day when senior point guard Peyton Siva became the 64th Cardinal in history to score his 1,000th career point, he kept adding to that total by finishing the day with 17 points. The Louisville field goal percentage was abysmal, but coach Pitino said he wasn’t worried because that’s what happens when you play with such a large lead and then just start chucking up shots to have some fun.
Chane Behanan, originally thought to miss 4 games with a high ankle sprain, came back for this one and pulled down 12 rebounds, all in the first half. Center Gorgui Dieng’s double-double impressed as well. The center from Senegal scored 12 points and cleared the boards to the tune of 16 rebounds.
Combine the Louisville blow out and the Duke loss and look for the 3rd ranked Cards to move up in the college basketball polls when they’re released.
The Cardinals go into action next on Monday against at Connecticut. They return home on Saturday for a huge matchup against #7 Syracuse.
Photos: Louisville.com/Tim Girton