Louisville shuts down South Florida, 59-41
by C.L. Brown, USA TODAY Sports
TAMPA — An 18-point win over the Big East’s last-place team was not a reason for the University of Louisville to feel good about itself heading into a week off before its next game.
The No. 12 Cardinals’ 59-41 win over South Florida before 7,368 fans at the USF Sun Dome — a considerable number of whom were clad in red — was what they were supposed to do. It’s how they did it that pleased U of L coach Rick Pitino.
The Cards passed the ball.
And when they pass well, they shoot well.
“The reason why sometimes we’re not a good shooting team is we haven’t been a good passing team,” Pitino said. “… That’s one area we’ve struggled all year is passing. (Against USF) we didn’t. We really, really whipped the ball around, and I think Russ (Smith) was the catalyst to passing the ball.”
Out of 22 baskets, 15 came off of an assist. The only game this season the Cards have lost with at least 68 percent of baskets off assists was their five-overtime loss to Notre Dame.
“The nights we’ve struggled is when we’ve gone too much one-on-one and guys didn’t pass the ball,” Pitino said.” (Sunday) we distributed the basketball and everybody looked good because of it.”
Some just made it look better than others.
Peyton Siva led the way with seven assists. But no assist garnered more style points than one of Chane Behanan’s three assists. Behanan chased down a ball that appeared headed out of bounds and hit Smith in stride down the lane with a behind-the-back pass for a layup.
“I saw Chane making a hustle play and thought maybe he would come up with it,” Smith said. “He just made an outstanding play.”
Pitino spent time during pregame meetings describing how the team would peak heading into March. He wanted each player to focus on improving in two fundamental areas.
One of Smith’s points of emphasis was to get his teammates involved. Pitino said he believed Smith — who added six rebounds and four assists to go with his game-high 15 points — played one of his best games of … [For more on No. 12 Louisville shuts down South Florida, 59-41, click here.]