Flashback: Wednesday, February 29th, 2012. The favored Louisville Cardinals take the floor of the KFC Yum! Center for senior night against a very upstart South Florida team. Louisville starts slow, is down five at half, and ends up losing to the Bulls 51-58. The booing from the stands marred any hope of completing joyous senior night activities.
Fast forward: Saturday, January 12th, 2013. The Cardinals would start anything but slow, and hold South Florida to a season low in scoring in a 64-38 blowout.
Senior guard Peyton Siva was a one-man wrecking crew early, starting 3-for-3 from distance as Louisville pulled away early, up 20-3 by the 10:58 mark in the first half. Siva would finish with a game high 17 points. It would be a milestone day for Siva - he cracked 1,000 career points in a Louisville uniform.
Only one other Cardinal would score in double figures, junior center Gorgui Dieng, dropping 12 points on USF. Dieng also pulled down 16 boards, just six less than South Florida as a team. Sophomore forward Chane Behanan, who wasn't expected to play on a sprained ankle, come off the bench and pulled down another 12 rebounds. Together, Behanan and Dieng out-rebounded USF 28-22. The Cards out-rebounded USF in total 48-22.
Junior guard Russ Smith, Louisville's leading scorer, had a woeful shooting day, scoring just 8 points on 2-for-13 (15.4%) and 0-for-4 from distance. Luckily, Russ' offensive output wasn't needed today, as South Florida could muster only a team record low 38 points (their previous low was 39; their previous low this season was 44).
South Florida turned the ball over 17 times in the game, leading in large part to Louisville's huge lead early. The battle wouldn't look as easily won though, as Louisville would end the game with 15 turnovers, most during the late portion of the game as the Cardinals got very sloppy with that lead.
Louisville had another very good day at the free throw line, connecting on 15-of-17 for 88.2%. It was another big part of Louisville's advantage on the floor, as the Bulls were just 11-of-21 from the line for 52.4%.
Louisville has a decent shot to be at least #2 in the country come Monday, as top ranked Duke fell to NC State today 76-84. There is even a chance for #1, as second ranked Michigan will travel to Columbus to face arch-rival and 15th ranked Ohio State on Sunday. But regardless of what Louisville's ranking is come Monday afternoon, they are going to have a serious fight on their hands come Monday evening: they travel to Storrs to face Big East foe Connecticut. The Huskies are coming off of a huge road win over 17th ranked Notre Dame today, 65-58.
You can catch Louisville's game at Connecticut on Monday night at 7:00pm on ESPN.