Louisville Stays Undefeated In Big East, Downs South Florida

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville's offense is starting to catch
up to its defense.
Edgar Sosa scored 16 points, Samardo Samuels had 14 and Earl
Clark added 12 points and seven rebounds as the seventh-ranked
Cardinals raced by South Florida 80-54 on Wednesday night.
Terrence Williams had five points, 10 rebounds and six assists
as Louisville (16-3, 7-0 Big East) won its eighth straight to keep
pace with No. 8 Marquette atop the nation's toughest conference.
Dominique Jones led the Bulls with 19 points and seven rebounds
and Jesus Verdejo had 10 points, but South Florida (7-14, 2-6)
simply couldn't keep up in the second half as Louisville quickly
broke open a close game.
Louisville's 800th game at Freedom Hall looked an awful lot like
most of the 799 that came before it. The Cardinals improved to
664-136 at the venerable gym with the victory.
South Florida made the Cardinals work for it, at least for a
half.
Louisville led by just one at the break before going on a run at
the start of the second half to end any hope the Bulls had of
pulling off the upset.
Samuels started a 23-4 spurt with back-to-back dunks as the
Cardinals took off.
Using their press to force turnovers and get on the break, the
Cardinals played with the kind of offensive efficiency coach Rick
Pitino said would eventually come if they started sharing the ball.
Louisville had 21 assists on 31 baskets, a few of them bordering
on the spectacular. Williams threaded a bounce past between his
legs at full speed to a sprinting Clark, who dunked it.
Sosa then hit three 3-pointers over the next three minutes,
including a shot from the corner that hit the rim, bounced high a
good five feet up then dropped into the basket as Sosa pumped his
arms in celebration.
Even reserve forward Will Scott, who'd been accepted to study at
Oxford University earlier in the day, got in on the act. The
sharpshooter knocked down a 3-pointer that gave the Cardinals 65-41
lead, Scott's first basket in three weeks.
The lead eventually ballooned to 30, letting Louisville enjoy
the final few minutes of a game for a change.
With things well in hand in the final minute, Williams stood up
on the sidelines and led the student section in a chant urging
Pitino to put in sophomore guard Lee Steiden, who hadn't played all
season.
Pitino obliged as the crowd roared, though Steiden did miss his
only shot.
Not that it mattered, by then the Cardinals were well on their
way to staying perfect in the Big East. Louisville hosts West
Virginia on Saturday before a showdown with No. 2 Connecticut next
Monday.
For a while, it looked like the Cardinals might be looking
ahead.
Louisville led just 33-32 at the half, the result of some
lethargic play early on as the Cardinals and the crowd seemed
subdued. Maybe they were weary from two days of ice and snow that
blanketed the region and left thousands without power.
South Florida shot 54 percent in the half, the first time the
Cardinals have allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent
in a half since Austin Peay on Dec. 13.
Louisville turned up the pressure in the second half, holding
the Bulls to 37 percent shooting and forcing 21 turnovers on the
game.


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