LOUISVILLE, Ky. — USF entered Wednesday night's Big East opener shorthanded, which is never a good thing to do against Louisville.
The explosive Cardinals, the defending conference champions, started the second half with a 20-3 run to break open a close game and put away USF 73-52. The result was a culmination of the Bulls' lack of depth, foul trouble and poor shooting.
USF (10-3, 0-1) dressed only nine players, and two of its top players, Chris Howard and Dominique Jones fouled out. Jones, the Bulls leading scorer, fouled out with 12:52 left, scoring five on 2 of 6 shooting.
The Bulls shot just 38 percent from the field, made only 13 of 27 free throws and committed a season-high 21 turnovers.
"We needed everybody to beat Louisville," Jarrid Famous said.
In the first half, the Bulls made nine of their last 10 shots and held the Cardinals scoreless for the last 3:50, cutting a 10-point deficit to 32-31.
As hot as the Bulls ended the first half, they shot 1 of 8 in the first nine minutes of the second half as Louisville took control.
"I give (Louisville) a lot of credit," USF coach Stan Heath said. "Obviously, they did a lot of things. When we went small, they posted up on our small lineup. When we had foul trouble, they went at the guy in foul trouble. They kept pressure on the areas that we were really vulnerable. We didn't have the answers as the game wore on."
The Bulls came away with something positive: the frontcourt play of Famous and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick of King High. Famous finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while the freshman Fitzpatrick, starting in place of injured Gus Gilchrist, had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
With Gilchrist and Alex Rivas expected to return next month and the arrival of transfer Anthony Crater, Heath said USF will be "remarkably different" by the end of the Big East season.
"Crater will give us a speed merchant that can really make plays out there on the court," Heath said. "Hopefully in the next few weeks, we will be at full strength and we can hang in there in the meantime."
Edgar Sosa led Louisville with 16 points.