South Florida-Louisville Preview
Lopsided wins are rather common for Louisville, and it may be able to cruise again ahead of one of its toughest tests of the season.
With a visit to American Athletic Conference leader Cincinnati looming, the No. 11 Cardinals look to avoid a letdown against South Florida and turn in another superb shooting display Tuesday night.
Louisville (21-4, 10-2) owns the largest average scoring disparity in the nation at 21.2 points, and its 26.5 margin of victory is the most for any team in a major conference.
The routs have continued following a 69-66 defeat to the then-No. 13 Bearcats on Jan. 30. The Cardinals have won four in a row since, averaging 26.0 points more than their opponents.
They're shooting 53.5 percent over that stretch, including 42.0 from 3-point range, while averaging 8.5 turnovers.
"When you shoot the ball well and don't turn it over and play hard, it makes your defense better," coach Rick Pitino said. "It makes you play better in all phases of the game."
Louisville was impressive in nearly every facet while romping Rutgers 102-54 on Sunday. The Cardinals connected on 55.7 percent of their field goals while making 16 of 30 3s.
"With this league and college basketball in general, you really have no idea how an opponent will play," Pitino said. "What you have to do is, stay focused, try to take away their strengths and try to make sure that you're clicking on all cylinders."
That philosophy may be key as Louisville tries to continue its dominance ahead of Saturday's meeting with seventh-ranked Cincinnati, and a matchup with South Florida (12-14, 3-10) should help.
The Cardinals own a 28-4 all-time record against the Bulls, outscoring them by an average of 19.2 points while winning 14 of the past 15 meetings.
They dominated USF again Jan. 22, hitting 12 of 23 3-pointers en route to an 86-47 road victory. Luke Hancock had 14 points, and he's averaging 16.6 on 53.5 percent shooting - 13 of 29 from long range - in five games since.
The senior is coming off a career-high 25 points against the Scarlet Knights, sinking 6 of 8 3-pointers.
Montrezl Harrell is trying to bounce back from his worst shooting effort of the season. The sophomore forward missed 6 of 7 from the floor to finish with four points Sunday, but he added nine rebounds and two blocks.
Harrell had 14 points and 10 boards while swatting away two shots against the Bulls last month.
South Florida is trying to avoid matching a season-high four-game losing streak after allowing a layup with 1.8 seconds left to fall 75-74 to Central Florida on Saturday.
Coach Stan Heath, however, liked the effort from his team, which has lost 12 of 16.
"There were some questions on if they were still going to battle, still going to fight," Heath said. "Hopefully that answers some questions that they are still going to fight.
"There is still basketball to be played. There is still a chance for us to get to a sixth seed in the league."
Victor Rudd, who leads the Bulls with 14.9 points per game, scored 21 and grabbed nine rebounds Saturday. He had just six points in the first matchup against Louisville.
Martino Brock managed four points in that meeting, but he's also coming off a 21-point effort versus the Knights.