LOUISVILLE, Ky. —After Louisville beat up on his USF team 80-54 Tuesday night, the last thing Bulls coach Stan Heath was going to do was pile on.
"I'm not going to be happy that we lost, but we aren't going to beat ourselves up," he said. "And we are going to get back to Tampa in 80-degree weather and enjoy ourselves."
While Heath found some positives in the game against the 11th-ranked Cardinals, it was the hosts who were enjoying themselves at the KFC Yum! Center.
Despite being outsized by the Bulls (12-15, 3-11 American) at every position, the Cardinals simply dominated inside. Louisville (22-4, 11-2) outscored USF 56-26 in the paint and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds.
"We've been having problems (inside) lately," said Heath. "My young big guys are going to be really good, both John (Egbunu) and Chris (Perry). They are just young. They give up position. They struggle with ball screens and team are watching them on film and they are exploiting us."
The Bulls could not overcome 20 turnovers and failed to take advantage when Louisville's best frontcourt player picked up his fourth foul in the first minute of the second half.
Cardinals starting forward Montrezl Harrell fouled a driving Zach LeDay to get his third foul 39 seconds into the half. Both received technicals, which sent Louisville's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer to the bench for the next 12:08.
The Cardinals led 46-30 at that point. Twice the Bulls cut the advantage to 12, but they drew no closer.
The loss overshadowed a great performance by Victor Rudd, who finished with a season-high 27 points and 10 rebounds. The senior forward shot 11-of-17 and passed Fred Lewis to become the program's 14th leading scorer.
USF now gets a week-long break before hosting No. 21 Connecticut, the Bulls' final match-up against an American top-five team. Heath said he will give his team a couple of days off, hoping the players can regain their confidence heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
The Bulls still have a chance to get the sixth seed and avoid a first-round game in the conference tournament as they are two games behind sixth-place Houston. Rudd believes that's an attainable goal.
"I just want to get as many wins as possible," he said. "My team's been playing hard the last couple of games, and that's all I can ask for as a senior."