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Men’s Top 25

Cardinal defenses baffling for Bulls

– Rick Pitino spoke, and Russ Smith listened.

Inspired by a morning conversation with his coach, Smith scored 15 points and No. 12 Louisville stayed within a game of first place in the Big East by shutting down South Florida in a 59-41 victory Sunday.

Pitino told his junior guard: “ ‘Son, you’re unguardable, so rather than be unguardable for yourself, be unguardable to help other guys get easy layups.’ And he did a great job of that,” Pitino said. “He was very, very active at both ends.”

Smith, Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware did all the scoring for the Cardinals during a 22-3 run in the first half.

Smith also finished with six rebounds and four assists for Louisville (21-5, 9-4), which has won four of five.

“I just try to do everything (Pitino) says,” Smith said. “He’s the one driving the car, and I just have to listen and have him guide me to where I want to be as a player.”

The Cardinals confused USF with a variety of presses, holding the Bulls to 13 field goals while forcing 16 turnovers.

“I thought this was one of our best games of the year because our focus defensively was awesome, and I thought it was Russ’ best game,” Pitino said. “He probably doesn’t think so. We’ve been talking about doing smart things as a guard. He did a lot of smart things in helping other guys get great shots.”

Blackshear’s three-pointer tied it 11-all with 12:58 left in the first half and launched the decisive rally. Smith scored the final seven points of the spurt to put the Cardinals up 30-14.

JaVontae Hawkins’ three-pointer provided USF’s only points in a 9-minute span.

“That’s a great defensive team, so you’ve got to give them credit,” Hawkins said. “They communicate on defense, they help each other on defense, they talk. When all that comes together, that makes a great defensive team.”

Jawanza Poland scored 11 points for Bulls (10-15, 1-12) , which shot 24.5 percent (13 for 53) and lost its eighth straight.

No. 3 MIAMI 45, CLEMSON 43: In Clemson, S.C., Kenny Kadji scored 12 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 36 seconds left to keep the Hurricanes (21-3, 12-0) perfect in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Miami finished with its fewest points of the season.

The Hurricanes’ high-scoring guard duo of Durand Scott and Shane Larkin were a combined 3-of-16 shooting for 10 points. Still, Miami pulled it out on Kadji’s wide-open three.

The Hurricanes hugged each other when the horn sounded, grateful to continue the league’s longest undefeated start since Duke went 16-0 in 1998-99.

No. 9 ARIZONA 68, UTAH 64: In Salt Lake City, Mark Lyons scored 18 points, freshman Brandon Ashley added 10 in a reserve role and the Wildcats (21-4, 9-4 Pac-12) snapped a two-game skid.

Jarred DuBois had 16 points to lead the Utes (11-14, 3-10), who have yet to win back-to-back conference games since joining the Pac-12 two years ago.