HARTFORD, Conn. — Russ Smith scored 23 points and Gorgui Dieng had six points and 16 rebounds and Louisville, playing just hours after it moved to No. 1, used a strong second half to beat Connecticut 73-58 on Monday night.
The Cardinals (16-1, 4-0 Big East) won their 11th consecutive game and as in others they relied on their star backcourt and pressure defense.
The only other time Louisville was ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press’ Top 25 was the final poll of 2008-09. The Cardinals won the national championship in 1980 and 1986 but the AP does not conduct a post-NCAA tournament poll.
The Cardinals are the third team to hold the No. 1 spot this season along with Indiana and Duke and they celebrated the move with the convincing road win.
Omar Calhoun led the Huskies (12-4, 2-2) with 20 points while Shabazz Napier had 12.
SOUTHERN CAL: Kevin O’Neill took over a troubled Southern California basketball team, getting the Trojans back to the NCAA tournament after NCAA issues kept them out in his first season while producing winning records twice in 3½ years. It wasn’t enough.
He was fired Monday, with the Trojans 7-10 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12 after splitting their road trip last weekend.
He had a 48-65 record at the school known primarily for its powerful football program after going 6-26 last year while setting a USC record for losses.
FLORIDA: Casey Prather is the latest Florida player on the mend.
Prather will be out 10 to 14 days, including Thursday’s game at Texas A&M, after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Saturday’s win at LSU. Prather, a junior averaging 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, was wearing a walking boot on his left foot and using crutches Monday.
The 10th-ranked Gators (12-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) already are dealing with injuries to guards Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin and forwards Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete.
WYOMING: Coach Larry Shyatt has suspended one of the team’s top scorers indefinitely after a bar fight.
University of Wyoming athletics officials announced Monday that charges were filed against Luke Martinez over the weekend because of an off-campus incident Dec. 30.
Martinez is a 22-year-old senior who was averaging better than 14 points a game before he fractured a bone in his hand.