Updated at: 01/12/2013 5:07 PM
By GARY GRAVES
(AP) LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Peyton Siva scored 17 points and No. 3 Louisville held South Florida to a season-low 27 percent shooting for an easy 64-38 victory on Saturday.
Center Gorgui Dieng added 12 points and 16 rebounds while forward Chane Behanan had 12 rebounds and seven points for the Cardinals (15-1, 3-0 Big East), who won their 10th in a row. Behanan played just five days after injuring his left ankle in practice and missing Wednesday’s victory against Seton Hall.
Siva meanwhile bounced back from a 2-of-6 shooting effort against the Pirates to hit seven shots, including three 3-pointers. The Big East Conference preseason player of the year also surpassed 1,000 career points.
The Cardinals dominated the boards 49-24 including a 19-6 edge in offensive rebounds.
Victor Rudd came off the bench to score 10 points for South Florida (9-6, 0-3).
The best news for Louisville was the earlier-than-expected return of Behanan, who sprained his left ankle in practice Monday and was expected to miss up to four games. But after watching the Cardinals’ 73-58 win on Wednesday night at Seton Hall from campus, the sophomore declared himself available to play on Friday after X-rays that his pain was caused by a spur rather than the sprain.
Pitino vowed to play Behanan and inserted him during the first media timeout. Despite braces on both ankles, Behanan came out with spring in his step and quickly became a presence with a rebound, a tip-in basket and steal of an inbounds pass in his first two minutes alone. He ended up with eight rebounds in five minutes, exiting midway through the first half with nearly twice of USF’s total (five) after 12 minutes.
Behanan added an alley-oop dunk on a lob from Siva to give Louisville a 19-3 lead that typified the Cardinals’ first-half dominance. They led by as many as 25 before heading to the locker room with a 37-15 lead achieved mostly by relentless defense that made seven steals and forced 10 turnovers along with a whopping 30-10 rebounding edge including a 12-2 advantage offensively.
South Florida’s poor shooting made some of those numbers possible. The Bulls shot just 23 percent in the first 20 minutes (five of 22) and made just two baskets in the first 10 minutes, resulting in a season low for first half points and their worst overall half since shooting 6 of 26 in the second half of a 58-53 loss to Western Michigan on Nov. 18.
The Cardinals stretched their lead to 30 with seven minutes remaining in the game.
JoVantae Hawkins had nine points and Toarlyn Fitzpatrick seven for the Bulls.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)