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Louisville continues to roll with rout of South Florida

Jan 29, 2009 - 4:03 AM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- A second-half surge helped seventh-ranked Louisville extend its impressive start in conference play.

Edgar Sosa scored 16 points and freshman Samardo Samuels added 14 as Louisville won its seventh straight contest to open the Big East schedule by trouncing South Florida, 80-54, on Wednesday.

Earl Clark contributed 12 points and seven rebounds while Terrence Williams notched five points, 10 boards and six assists for the Cardinals (16-3, 7-0 Big East), who have earned 19 wins in their last 20 tries at home.

"The second half was more like the way we have been playing," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We fell into the trap we fall into in so many games. We take quick shots and don't have vision of the ball on defense. In the second half we had to have a great start."

Dominique Jones recorded 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench for the Bulls (7-13, 2-6), who have lost 25 straight road games against top-25 opponents since an 81-76 win at then-No. 15 Tulane on February 6, 1992.

"I thought the first 20 minutes of the game we played about as well as we could play," South Florida coach Stan Heath said. "I was really proud of the guys that they really fought and scraped.

"Louisville is the most difficult team, their depth, size of the athletes; they really try and wear you down. They wore us down in the second half."

South Florida has also dropped 10 straight games against ranked opponents since a 69-63 win over then-No. 21 Notre Dame on February 3, 2007.

"They really got to us," Heath said. "They did a very nice job of putting the heat on Dominique Jones. They double-teamed him a lot and he was not quite the same player he was in the first half. Once they got the snowball rolling, it really blew up. The threes started falling and it was time for us to go home."

After being staked to a slim 33-32 lead at the half, Louisville used a 22-3 run that went over the first 9:21 of the second half to run away with its ninth consecutive win vs. South Florida and eighth overall.

"We stopped taking quick shots and we ran our offense," Pitino said. "We have to come out right away. Andre (McGee) and Preston (Knowles) had to fight to get us back in the game. At halftime we needed them to set the tone right away and they did. That opened it up for Edgar (Sosa) and Jerry (Smith) when they came in."

South Florida was never able to recover despite shooting 45 percent (24-of-53) from the floor and topping Louisville in rebounding, 35-34.

In the teams' first matchup this season, the Cardinals cruised to a 71-57 victory on January 7.

"I think you either get better or you get worse. (The Cardinals) are getting better," Heath said. "They are very comfortable with what they are doing on the court... I think that they are doing what they do a little bit better.

"Look at how they have been going on a roll with all of the teams in the Big East and they are peaking at the right time."