Pitino zeroes in on defense, UofL smothers South Florida

The University of Louisville and South Florida basketball programs have met 30 times since 1985, with UofL winning 26 times, but none of them more satisfying than the 64-38 crushing of the visiting Bulls Saturday.

Brandon Pry photo
Brandon Pry photo

Typically the games have been in slow motion, USF agonizing every minute out of the clock with slowdown basketball, attempting to lull participants and onlookers into dreamland. As in last season’s doze-fest, a 58-51 loss to South Florida on Senior Night at the KFC Yum! Center.

Rick Pitino wasn’t going to allow his team to lose focus this time around, the coach’s expression before, during and after game indicating that anything deviating from the game plan wouldn’t be tolerated. He’s got his Big East game face on now, and it’s there to stay, with games against UConn, Syracuse, Villanova, Georgetown, Pittsburgh and Marquette on the immediate horizon.

One of the consequences for South Florida was that it could manage only 12 field goals, the fewest by a Louisville opponent this season. USF’s 38-point total was also the lowest for a UofL opponent and the lowest for the Bulls thus far.

  • Sorry, Russ Smith, ye of great entertainment value. The coach not going to tolerate the usual, not in the mood, leading scorer or not. the coach also agitated by a lingering cold.  After three wacky missed shots and a turnover, Smith will leave the game with 10:41 to go in the second half not to be seen again. Only 18 minutes of playing time did he accumulate his eight points, three rebounds and three turnovers.
  • Peyton Siva, meanwhile, becoming the 64th player to reach the 1,000 point in UofL history at the 2:41 mark of the first half. He could accumulate 17 points on seven-for-11 shooting from the field, including three-for-five on three-pointers, to go with three steals and one assist (raising an eyebrow from Pitino).
  • Gorgui Dieng gets it, again playing against a much larger center, scoring 12 points and matching a career-high of 16 rebounds for his third straight double-double and the 15th of his career.
  • Chane Behanan, no limping for him, playing full speed ahead, pulling in 12 rebounds, all in the first half, while collecting seven points.
  • Kevin Ware encroaching on Russ Smith’s playing time, putting those long arms to good use on defense, finishing on two layups. Good decision dumping the ball off Montrezl Harrell at the free throw line for a monstrous dunk.

Pitino knows what he has this season, the jocular a thing of the past.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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