LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- ESPN analyst Bob Wenzel relayed a quick story about Peyton Siva during the broadcast of the University of Louisville's 59-41 victory Sunday at South Florida.
Siva told Wenzel that his pastor texts him a Bible verse every game day, and when he asked Siva what this day's verse was, Siva replied, Romans 8:18.
Just out of curiosity, Wenzel asked Siva if he remembered what the verse said. Siva then recited from memory, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
With a second straight victory and fifth in six games, U of L looked a bit more removed from the suffering of its three-game losing streak, and of its five-overtime loss at Notre Dame. And even if it hasn't reached "glory" status, it does remain just one game out of first place in the Big East.
The Cardinals (21-5, 9-4) displayed some of their best ball movement of the season -- their 22 field goals came off 15 assists -- and they won the game with a pair of big runs, 22-3 in the first half and 19-3 in the second.
"I thought this was one of our best games of the year because of our focus defensively, and I thought it was one of Russ (Smith's) best games of the year," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "He probably didn't think so, but he did a lot of smart things tonight in helping other guys get great shots."
Smith had 15 points, four assists and six rebounds, and was a central player in both runs. Smith, Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware scored all the points in the 22-3 first-half run that put U of L in control. The Cards led by only eight at halftime because South Florida made five first-half threes. After discussing the problem at halftime, the Cards did not give up a three-pointer in the second half.
Despite shooting just 2-of-13 from three-point range, the Cards shot 45.7 percent from the game and made 20 of their 35 two-point attempts (57.1 percent).
"The reason sometimes we're not a good shooting team is we haven't been a good passing team," Pitino said. "The reason Indiana and Gonzaga are so good offensively, it's not their shooting, it's their passing that makes them so good. We've struggled with that over the years. Tonight we didn't. We really, really worked the ball around and Russ was the catalyst for that. . . If this team passes it, if we pass the ball, we're pretty tough to beat because of how hard we play and how we play on the defensive end. The nights we've had trouble is the nights we didn't pass the ball and there was too much one-on-one."
The Cards got a dozen points each from Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear, and got their best production of the season from sophomore Kevin Ware. Pitino moved Ware to point guard a couple of weeks ago in practice and says the move is paying dividends.
He said Ware presents problems for opposing point guards with his defense, and that allowing Smith to stay off the ball on defense leads to more steals for him.
Behanan had three assists, including a highlight reel behind-the-back save in the second half while falling out of bounds.
South Florida is struggling. The Bulls have now lost eight straight and 12 of 13 in Big East play. Given that, it's tough to read too much into this win. But Pitino is talking to his team about peaking. The losing streak is fading in the rear-view mirror, and Pitino spoke before the game to his players about why teams play their best in March.
"The way you peak to March is, at this point you know your offensive scheme and know your defensive scheme, and you minor changes," Pitino said. "The way you peak to March is you take each player and say, these are two things you must improve on. . . . Each person has got to improve in two different areas from a fundamental standpoint. That's how you peak to March, because the parts get better, while the whole grows. That's what we talked about this morning, with each guy."
At the very least, that's Pitino's proposal to go from suffering to glory.