It was a foul night for the University of South Florida men's basketball team at Freedom Hall.
Foul trouble and foul foul shooting did in the Bulls in their Big East Conference opener Wednesday, as reigning conference champ Louisville routed USF 73-52 - outscoring the Bulls 41-21 in the second half.
The already short-handed Bulls were plagued by fouls - a pair of starters were disqualified - and woeful free throw shooting (13-for-27, 48.1 percent).
Second-leading scorer Dominique Jones picked up three quick fouls to start the second half and fouled out with 12 minutes, 52 seconds remaining with five points - well below the 18.6 average he entered the game with. Chris Howard followed suit by fouling out with 4:28 to play.
On the heels of Jones' fourth foul, the Cardinals went on a game-deciding 15-0 run.
"That was a tough, tough game for us. We let the Louisville pressure get to us, especially in the second half," said USF coach Stan Heath, whose team committed 21 turnovers, including 16 in the second half. "I thought in the first half we did what we needed to do. Neither team is very excited about the free throw shooting, neither team is very excited about the 3-point shooting, and neither team is excited about the turnovers.
"Just being short-handed really cost us, but I think that's Big East basketball. You've got to have some depth, you have to have some guys come into the game and give you some production. And tonight it wasn't too good for us. Obviously we lose Dominique and Chris and it really put us in a hole."
The Bulls (10-3, 0-1), who came in off to their best start in 18 years, led 6-5 early and trailed only 12-11 before the Cardinals (10-3, 1-0) took control with an 11-2 run.
However USF, which was picked 14th in the Big East preseason coaches' poll (Louisville was chosen fourth), rallied just before halftime to trim its deficit to one at 32-31.
USF hosts Notre Dame at 7 p.m. Tuesday.