LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Not even a dose of nostalgia could cure
Louisville of its offensive woes on Saturday.
At halftime, the Cardinals stayed on the bench to watch a
ceremony honoring Louisville's 1980 NCAA championship squad.
The players said the celebration provided an emotional burst --
but it didn't help their shooting.
The Cardinals (21-4, 9-2 Conference USA) finished 5-for-15 from
3-point range and were 20-of-54 overall (37 percent) in the game
after shooting a season-low 33 percent in an 85-68 loss to Memphis
"It's a lack of running our offense," Louisville coach Rick
Pitino said. "We're not doing a good job of making simple passes.
We've just got to get back to basics and we'll be fine."
For most of the game against the Bulls, the Cardinals looked
just as dysfunctional as they did against Memphis.
South Florida (10-12, 3-8) jumped to a 14-4 lead as Francisco
Garcia, Dean and O'Bannon -- Louisville's top three scorers -- failed
to score in the first 10 minutes. O'Bannon missed an uncontested
two-handed dunk and Dean banged a short jumper off the bottom of
the backboard during the dry spell.
Dean said the Cardinals were trying too hard to atone for
"I admit I was pressing. Everybody was pressing," Dean said.
Louisville's defense triggered a 14-2 run, forcing six turnovers
in a 5-minute span. O'Bannon's layup with 8:11 left in the first
half gave the Cardinals their first lead, 18-16.
But the Cardinals couldn't shake the Bulls, leading only 27-24
at halftime after going 1-for-7 from 3-point range and 9-for-27
overall in the opening 20 minutes.
Pitino expected his players to struggle with the Memphis loss
still fresh in their memories.
"After you have a loss like that, the first half is always a
nightmare," Pitino said. "You've got to get over it and not let
South Florida coach Robert McCullum, meanwhile, was pleased with
his team's first-half performance.
"Our effort and focus was outstanding on both ends of the
floor," McCullum said. "Our guys came out and played with
toughness in terms of things we had to do to execute."
Pitino talked to his team before the ceremony commemorating the
silver anniversary of Louisville's first national championship.
Former coach Denny Crum, leading scorer Darrell Griffith and the
rest of that team shook hands with the current Cardinals before
filing off the floor to a standing ovation.
"I wanted them to see the difference in how a team is loved
when they win a championship," Pitino said. "I wanted our guys to
realize that all players are special. But when you win a
championship, you'll always be remembered."
The Cardinals gradually opened a double-digit lead after
halftime, but they continued to shoot poorly and never sustained a
long scoring spurt.
Garcia hit his first 3-pointer with 14:17 left to start a 13-4
Louisville run. Dean's 3-pointer 3 minutes later finished the
burst, but the Cardinals then went 4 minutes without a point.
Marlyn Bryant converted a three-point play with 9:45 left during
an 8-0 Bulls' run that cut Louisville's lead to 47-42.
But the Bulls were also plagued by bad shooting and never got
closer. They went 3 minutes without a field goal as the Cardinals
gradually pushed the lead back into double digits.
Bryant hit a 3-pointer with 1:04 left to end the Bulls' drought,
but the basket only cut Louisville's lead to 63-54.
Terrence Leather scored 18 to lead the Bulls, who shot 10-of-29
in the second half (34.5 percent) and finished 20-of-51 (39
The Cardinals were averaging more than 85 points per game, fifth
in the nation, but failed to reach 70 points in consecutive games
for the first time this season.
"We've just got to get to the end of our offense and having fun
again," said Garcia, who went 2-for-7 from the field and 7-of-8
from the free throw line. "You've got to finish and get to the end
of our plays and we're not doing that."
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