Tampa, FL – Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Russ Smith scored 19 points to lead No. 11 Louisville to an 80-54 thrashing of South Florida on Tuesday.
Luke Hancock contributed 16 points, Montrezl Harrell netted 14 and Terry Rozier added 13 off the bench for the Cardinals (22-4, 11-2 AAC), who have won five straight since a 69-66 loss at home to then No. 13 Cincinnati on Jan. 30.
Louisville will face Cincinnati on Saturday in a rematch of the top two teams in the American Athletic Conference.
Victor Rudd led all scorers with 27 points for the Bulls (12-15, 3-11), who tied a season-high four-game losing streak with the loss and dropped their 15th game in the last 16 against Louisville.
"That's a really good basketball team. I don't think we played poorly, I just think they're really good," USF coach Stan Heath said.
Rudd made a layup to cut an early deficit to 11-8 before Louisville responded with a 19-6 run. Harrell opened the run with a layup and closed it with an uncontested dunk off his steal to give the Cardinals a 30-14 advantage.
Martino Brock then made a jumper and a three-point play around a Rudd jumper to close the gap to 10 with just under seven minutes left to play in the frame.
The Bulls got as close as nine before the Cardinals ended the final 5 1/2 minutes of the half on a 12-3 run to take a 46-28 lead at the break. Five players scored for Louisville during the burst with Mangok Mathiang converting a three-point play to close the scoring in the half.
"We had enough possessions tonight; it was a possession game. Even though they were shooting a very high percentage in the first half, they only got 14 shots off," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.
Shemiye McLendon made two layups around a pair of free throws from Rudd to open the second half and trim the halftime deficit to 12, but Louisville scored six unanswered a couple of minutes later to regain a healthy advantage.
McLendon made a free throw to make it a 15-point game before Louisville put the finishing touches on the performance with a 15-4 run to take a 75-49 lead with less than four minutes to play.
Louisville leads the all-time series against South Florida 29-4 ... The Cardinals defeated the Bulls 86-47 on Jan. 22 ... The Bulls shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range ... Louisville shot 3-for-18 from beyond the arc ... The Cardinals outrebounded South Florida 36-30 ... South Florida committed 20 turnovers.