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Smith scores 15 as No. 12 Louisville shuts down South Florida 59-41 to keep pace in Big East

  • Louisville guard Russ Smith (2) is fouled by South Florida guard Javontae Hawkins, left, while driving to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)The Associated Press

  • Louisville forward Chane Behanan (21) dunks in front of South Florida's Kore White, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)The Associated Press

  • Louisville guard Kevin Ware (5) shoots between South Florida's Jawanza Poland, second from left, and Zach LeDay, right, as teammate Montrezl Harrell, left, tries to move out of the way during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)The Associated Press

  • Louisville's Wayne Blackshear (20) is fouled by South Florida center Jordan Omogbehin (35) while going up for a shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tampa, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)The Associated Press

Russ Smith scored 15 points and No. 12 Louisville stayed within a game of first place in the Big East with a 59-41 victory over South Florida on Sunday.

Smith, Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware did all the scoring for the Cardinals during a 22-3 run in the first half. Smith also had six rebounds and four assists for Louisville, which has won four of five.

Blackshear's 3-pointer pulled Louisville (21-5, 9-4) even at 11-all and launched the decisive rally. Smith scored the final seven points of the spurt, which left the Cardinals with a 30-14 lead.

The Bulls (10-15, 1-12) cut the margin to six early in the second half with the help of a spectacular dunk by Victor Rudd and two free throws by Anthony Collins, but Louisville went back to its full-court pressure to produce another big run of 19-3 in the second half.