No. 19 Louisville hosts surging South Florida

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 29, 2012
Louisville_v_kentucky_a7ae
Senior Kyle Kuric sees it every year at Louisville. Come February, the Cardinals go from fair to fabulous. Kuric has been a part of a group that's won 21 of 29 games in the shortest month of the year, which bodes well when No. 19 Louisville (22-7, 10-6 Big East) hosts South Florida on Wednesday night. ''We're a very well-conditioned team, so it helps us out. Everything starts clicking,'' Kuric said. ''The freshmen start understanding, not thinking out there like, `That was my rotation, my fault. They're there and now it's good rotation, good job and play.' Now everything is starting to come together, everybody's starting to play well together and that's just this time of year.'' Kuric said coach Rick Pitino's practices also help as the season wanes. ''There's a lot of running, it's a very intense practice, but until you see it and you're actually involved in it every day, you really don't understand how difficult and demanding it can be,'' said Kuric, who leads the Cardinals averaging 13.1 points per game. ''Every day you're kind of sore, you're a little tired. It's just the normal day-to-day events around here.'' Winning has been for Louisville, too, which is well on its way to its sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance. South Florida would like to join the Cardinals there. The Bulls (18-11, 11-5) are playing much better since a 30-point loss at Georgetown, winning five of their last six to become the latest Big East team on the NCAA tournament bubble. They've also won ugly by failing to score more than 65 points in any of their last seven games and winning 46-45 against Cincinnati on Sunday. Pitino said that's typical of the style of play this time of year in the Big East after Louisville had its own grinding game with a 57-54 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday in which the Panthers knew the plays the Cardinals planned to run before they were even called. ''It's that time of year in league play where everybody knows the other team's offense, so you've got to figure out now how can you push it up?'' Pitino said. ''We pressed Pittsburgh, we did a very good job, we got a lot of offense off it, but even when we pressed them, they didn't attack the basket.'' At least Louisville can rely on its defense. The Cardinals are allowing opponents to shoot 37.6 percent from the field, the third lowest mark in the country, and have averaged 9.3 steals per game. Pitino said he expects more from center Gorgui Dieng, too, after a lackluster performance against the Panthers. ''I was really disappointed in him after the game because he didn't block enough shots, he didn't; there was so many opportunities for him to do things he didn't do and he said, `Coach, I'm exhausted, my legs have given out,''' said Pitino, who gave Dieng Monday off from practice and was planning to lighten his load on Tuesday. ''He's played probably too many minutes in practice and in the games. He's sort of hit that wall.'' Louisville will honor its three seniors - Kuric, Chris Smith and Jared Swopshire - at Wednesday's game. Kuric and Smith both joined the Cardinals as walk-ons and Swopshire will graduate and transfer after the season ends with a year of eligibility remaining after missing all of 2010-11 with a groin injury. Smith laughed again about the often-told story that Pitino initially thought he was a ball boy when he transferred from Manhattan, but has turned into a starter that's averaging 10.2 points per game as a second perimeter shooter after Kuric. He said as the Cardinals exit their favorite month, their biggest splash could come in March after a pair of one-and-done tournament appearances the last two seasons. ''Right now I feel like we're playing great defense and nobody's hurt right now, knock on wood,'' Smith said. ''The sky's the limit for this basketball team right now. Any given night, I feel, we can have our breakout night offensively. As long as we start pushing the ball, I feel a lot of teams are going to have trouble with us.''
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Fitzpatrick, Jets agree to one-year deal

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Data shows NFL-backed youth program that claimed reduced concussions is bogus

Report: Odom’s family working hard to get him to go to rehab

Drug dealers adding Olympic rings to cocaine wrappers in Rio

Report: Cowboys have ‘no interest’ in Freeney, Hardy

Report: Bradham was defending girlfriend during alleged assault

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

Robbie Keane rescued on highway after running out of gas

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Tigers play high stakes game of Rock, Paper, Scissors

Tavares dismisses rumors, wants to stay with Islanders

UFC signs a new broadcast deal in the U.K.

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker