Cardinals collide with Bulls in AAC action

Tampa, FL ( - The 12th-ranked Louisville Cardinals close out a two-game road trip on Wednesday evening, as they take on the South Florida Bulls in an American Athletic Conference matchup at the Sun Dome.

The defending national champions are in good position in the AAC standings, sitting at 5-1, just a game behind league-leading Cincinnati. Rick Pitino's squad enters this game with a three-game win streak in tow, after recording a big road win at Connecticut last weekend.

Stan Heath's Bulls are at the opposite end of the AAC spectrum at 1-4, just outside the conference cellar, ahead of only Temple (0-6). South Florida has lost two straight games and four of its last five outings, including falling to league-leading Cincinnati on Saturday, 61-54.

Louisville holds a commanding 27-4 advantage in the all-time series with South Florida. The Cardinals have won two straight meetings and is 11-2 in games played in Tampa.

The Cardinals outrebounded the hometown Huskies, 45-30 and shot a solid .456 from the floor in Louisville's win in Storrs. All-American candidate Russ Smith was just 5-of-13 from the floor in the game, but went 12-of-15 from the free-throw line to pace the team with 23 points. Montrezl Harrell had a strong game inside, recording a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Luke Hancock added 13 points to the cause.

The names have changed a bit, but Louisville is playing the type of basketball it was a year ago en route to the national title. The Cardinals have excelled at both ends of the floor and as a result, enjoy a hefty +20.5 scoring margin. The team is netting 83.1 ppg on .470 shooting, while allowing just 62.5 ppg. Louisville is also boasting of positive margins in both rebounding (4.0) and turnovers (+6.5). Four players average double figures in a balanced attack. Smith headlines the group at 18.4 ppg. Harrell (12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg) has evolved into a dominant low post player. Chris Jones (11.3 ppg) and Hancock (10.6 ppg) round out the quartet.

USF is hovering just over the .500 mark, as it averages almost as many points (68.1 ppg) than it allows (68.4 ppg). The Bulls are shooting a decent .441 from the floor, despite a mere .264 from behind the arc. The team hasn't exactly helped its cause with a .657 effort from the free-throw line. Victor Rudd is the team's top performer, leading the way in scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg). Corey Allen Jr. (11.1 ppg) is also in double figures in scoring, with Chris Perry (9.3 ppg) eager to join the group.

The Bulls won the battle on the boards 36-30 over the Bearcats, but struggled with shooting the basketball, delivering on only 39.2 percent of their shots in the loss. Javontae Hawkins led the team with 15 points off the bench. Rudd just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds, while John Egbunu chipped in with 10 points.