Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - After he was put on the shortlist of candidates
for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Rick Pitino will lead his Louisville
Cardinals into the Sun Dome for a Big East bout with the South Florida Bulls.
On Friday, Pitino was named one of 12 finalists selected for consideration for
induction in the 2013 Hall of Fame class along with such names as Gary Payton
and Tom Heinsohn. During his 27-year career Pitino has earned 647 wins,
reached the NCAA Tournament 17 times and collected one NCAA Championship while
leading Kentucky in 1996.
Pitino has himself another contender this season with his Cardinals ranked No.
12 in the country. The Cardinals, who were once No. 1 this season, have
regrouped from a three-game losing steak with victories in four of the last
five contests. Overall the Cardinals are 20-5 with an 8-4 mark in conference
play, good for fourth place in the clogged Big East standings, but just a game
out of first place. Next up the Cardinals will host Seton Hall.
The campaign has not been going as well for South Florida. The Bulls are a
miserable 1-11 in Big East play which has them in dead last in the conference.
With a 76-66 loss to Providence on Wednesday night the Bulls have now lost
seven straight games, the longest such streak of the season for South Florida.
Up next the Bulls take a trip to take on St. John's.
Louisville, not surprisingly, rolled to a 64-38 win over South Florida when
these teams met earlier this season. The Bulls had ended an 11-game winning
streak for the Cardinals last season for just their fourth win in the all-time
series, which Louisville leads, 26-4.
It was just another day at the office for Louisville against St. John's on
Wednesday. The Cardinals earned a 72-58 victory in the contest after coming
off a five overtime heartbreaker against Notre Dame in the previous contest.
Russ Smith scored 21 of his game-high 24 points in the second half to lead the
Though Smith (18.6 ppg) is still putting up big point totals his shooting has
been erratic of late. The 6-foot guard has shot less than 40 percent in each
of the last three games. Smith carries the bulk of the scoring load for the
Cardinals who have three players in double figures but no one else putting in
more than Chane Behanan (11.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg). Peyton Siva (10.3 ppg, 6.0 apg,
2.1 spg) is a pesky guard that is fourth in the conference in assists and
steals. Gorgui Dieng (9.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.6 bpg) is a double-double waiting
to happen inside, as well as an aggressive shot blocker, while Luke Hancock
(6.7 ppg) has added spark off the bench. All together Louisville is the second
best scoring team in the Big East (74.6 ppg), while holding foes to just 59.1
points per game on 39.6 percent shooting.
South Florida played a bit undisciplined on the defensive end against
Providence as the Bulls committed 20 fouls and allowed the Friars to earn a
21-9 edge in points from the free-throw line. Victor Rudd (26 points, 12
rebounds) and Anthony Collins (12 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles
Not only is South Florida last in the Big East standings it is also at the
bottom in nearly every offensive category, including scoring (60 pg), assists
(11.5 pg) and field-goal percentage (.395). The Bulls are also last in the
conference in rebounds (32.4 pg). The offensive struggles have wiped away any
benefits the Bulls have had on the defensive end where they have allowed just
62.7 points per game. Rudd (11.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is the top scorer and rebounder
on the squad, but performances like he had against Providence have been few
and far between. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick (10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) scored 14 points
against Providence and is the only other player averaging in double figures.
Collins (9.0 ppg, 6.6 apg) has done his best to orchestrate the offense,
ranking second in the Big East in assists.
The Sports Network