LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville had been having trouble with its outside shooting recently. You wouldn't have known that from the way the Cardinals shot it from long range against Seton Hall on Saturday, especially in the first half.
After 10 minutes of back-and-forth play, the 10th-ranked Cardinals broke open the game with a 17-2 run, with 12 of those points coming on 4-of-4 3-point shooting, en route to a 79-61 Big East Conference victory before 22,332 fans in the KFC Yum! Center.
The Cardinals, who won their third straight game, were trailing, 19-17, when they went on their run.
Luke Hancock started it with a 3-pointer, followed by another from Peyton Siva, before Hancock drilled another from beyond the arc.
After a Seton Hall basket, Stephan Van Treese made 1-of-2 free throws, followed by a 3-pointer from Russ Smith, two free throws by Smith, and a basket from barely inside the 3-point line by Kevin Ware.
At that point it was 34-21, and the game was all but over.
Louisville (22-5, 10-4 in the Big East) led, 40-26, at the half, and Seton Hall (13-15, 2-13) got no closer than 12 points in the second half in losing its ninth game in a row.
Gorgui Dieng, Louisville's 6-11 junior center from Senegal, led the Cardinals with a career-high 23 points. He hit 10-of-11 shots, mostly mid-range jumpers, and also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
Smith added 19 points, five assists and three steals, and Hancock had 13 points and was 3-of-3 from 3-point range. Peyton Siva had five assists to go with seven points, and Chane Behannan had eight rebounds to go with six points.
"Gorgui has been working very hard on his shooting," coach Rick Pitino said. "It has added another dimension to his game. He just keeps growing and growing as a basketball player.
"He's only been playing basketball for five years. (Dieng came to this country just five years ago.) He came here basically as a soccer player. He's got so much room to grow as a basketball player. Some NBA team is going to be very happy they drafted him. I've been looking all over the world for another one like him."
Said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, who was an assistant under Pitino at Louisville from 2001-07: "Gorgui is an improved player, and that's what coach Pitino does. His individual instruction speaks for itself. I think Gorgui is a guy that doesn't get enough credit for being the game changer that he is, both offensively and defensively.
" ... When he's making the 15-foot jumper they're almost impossible to beat because their defense is so good."
Seton Hall, which lost to Louisville for the second time this season (73-58 at Seton Hall on Jan. 9), was led by Aaron Cosby, a Louisville native, with 17 points. The sophomore guard hit 3-of-5 3-pointers.
Eugene Teague added 16 points and eight rebounds, Brian Oliver had 12 points and Fuquan Edwin 11.
Defense was key for the Cardinals, who forced 21 turnovers while committing only nine. They had 12 steals, topped by Ware with four.
"We played very good defense," Pitino said. "We wore them down. They actually played well, but they got exhausted. They don't have the depth that we have."
Said Willard: "We ran out of gas. They turned up the heat a little bit, and we didn't handle that real well."
Louisville's bench outscored Seton Hall's, 24-14. The Cardinals ended up out-shooting the Pirates, 45.6 percent to 44.2, and from 3-point range 46.7 percent to 38.9, but in the first half the Cardinals were 5-of-7 on 3-pointers (71.4 percent).
The Cardinals came into the game shooting only 31.7 percent on 3-pointers, 11th in the Big East, and in their previous game, a 59-41 victory at South Florida, they were 0-for-11 from behind the arc.
Pitino challenged the Cardinals to win their final seven regular-season games following a 104-101, five-overtime loss at Notre Dame. Three down, four to go, but the final three will be difficult, at No. 8 Syracuse and at home against Cincinnati and No. 25 Notre Dame.
NOTES: Seton Hall was without 6-9 sophomore forward Brandon Mobley, who sustained a season-ending shoulder injury last Saturday against Syracuse. Mobley was a starter and was averaging 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, fourth and third on the team respectively. He scored a team-high 18 points in a 73-58 loss to Louisville on Jan. 9. Haralds Karlis, a 6-5 sophomore averaging 3.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, replaced Mobley in the starting lineup. He had three points and three rebounds.