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Visiting Louisville cruises to 79-58 win over DePaul basketball

Russ Smith Donnavan Kirk

Russ Smith, Donnavan Kirk

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Updated: April 1, 2013 12:13PM

DePaul whittled a double- digit deficit to eight with seven minutes left Tuesday against No. 10 Louisville — but it was as close as the Blue Demons would get before falling 79-58 at Allstate Arena.

It was the 42nd consecutive loss against a ranked opponent for DePaul (11-17, 2-13 Big East).

‘‘I can’t put my finger on it,’’ Louisville coach Rick Pitino said of DePaul’s continuing struggles. ‘‘Oliver [Purnell] is a terrific coach and a longtime friend of mine. The staff is great; they have players who play so hard. Two overtime losses against Notre Dame. ... I root for DePaul, I do. I just think sooner or later they’ll get a break, and once they taste winning, they’ll do it more.’’

Conference games have become an albatross for DePaul, which has had only one victory in the last 12 games.

This game started as most have for DePaul — with the Demons jumping out to an early lead before their opponent regrouped.

The Demons led 6-0 in the opening two minutes as the Cardinals (23-5, 11-4) missed jump shots. Pitino called a timeout to stop the run — and after another Demons basket, the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run to take the lead for good.

‘‘It was a tough game. Louisville always comes out fighting and competing, and they have a great coaching staff,’’ said junior Brandon Young, who led all scorers with 22 points and added six assists. ‘‘We knew we’d have to compete at their level.’’

The Cardinals took control in the second half, shooting 58 percent to DePaul’s 45 percent (36 percent for the game).

Louisville also had a 46-33 rebounding advantage.

The Cardinals were led by senior guard Russ Smith’s 17 points, and senior All-America point guard Peyton Siva added 16 points and six assists. Five Cardinals scored in double figures, while DePaul only had Young and junior Cleveland Melvin (20).

‘‘We can’t take bad shots and expect to score,’’ Purnell said. ‘‘When we start to stand around and then take shots that aren’t there — they have to be ready to move and stay in attack mode.’’

The Cardinals went 2-for-8 from three-point range, while DePaul was only 1-for-9 with its lone three coming from Young with three minutes left.

DePaul has made at least one three-pointer in 607 consecutive games.

‘‘I’ve never coached a team that could shoot threes,’’ said Pitino, whose team is nearly identical to the Final Four squad of last season. ‘‘I’ve lost a best friend [the three-point shot], but it’s who we are.’’

The crowd of 8,654 included a strong Louisville contingent as well as fans of Chicago native Wayne Blackshear (four points, three rebounds, one block), who attended Morgan Park.

The crowd also featured many NBA scouts and Bulls vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman.

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