LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Providence suffered its worst loss of the season Wednesday night, falling 80-62 at No. 4 Louisville in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.
Turnabout is fair play.
Last January, the Friars (8-5, 0-1) dealt Louisville its worst defeat of the season, beating the Cardinals by 31 at home.
Providence's four previous losses this season had come by a total of just nine points, including a 69-68 defeat to crosstown-rival Brown in its last outing on Dec. 28.
The Friars lost by twice that margin to the Cardinals, who held them to 45 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers.
Kadeem Batts led Providence with 17 points.
"The last two were definitely unacceptable," the junior forward said of the Brown loss and the preceding 71-68 defeat at Boston College.
"This was definitely a tough team to play, a top five team in the country. We've got to look at the positive side - the things we can correct - and look to get a win against DePaul."
Providence coach Ed Cooley said his team, fully healthy for the first time all season, matched up against not just the Big East's beat team, but maybe even the nation's top team.
"I think, without question, that Louisville is the best team in the country. They were fun to watch, even to scout. ... That's just my opinion."
Batts said there's reason for optimism despite the three-game skid.
"Rock bottom isn't necessarily a bad thing," he said. "There's only one way up from rock bottom. I think our chemistry is coming together more and I think we'll be fine by the end of the season."
Bryce Cotton, the Big East's leading scorer coming in at 22.0 points per game, added 16 for the Friars.
Russ Smith paced Louisville (13-1, 1-0) with 23 points, one of five Cardinals in double figures. Gorgui Dieng had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Friars are 0-7 in Louisville.
The biggest question for both teams was whether they would be at full strength.
Cotton was a game-time decision because of a sore knee that sidelined him from Friday's loss to Brown. But he started and had 11 points in the first half.
Providence scored the first eight points against the out-of-sync Cardinals before Smith, replaced in the starting lineup by Kevin Ware, hit a 3-pointer. But the Friars quickly increased their lead to 10 as Vincent Council answered from beyond the arc.
Just as quickly, Louisville found its rhythm and tied the game with a 15-5 run as Smith added five straight points, Chane Behanan scored off a turnover, Dieng and Luke Hancock had tip-ins and Wayne Blackshear finished with a layup.
Providence took two brief leads soon after but Louisville was in high gear on both ends, especially on defense. The Cardinals turned up the pressure and ended the half with 19 points off 11 turnovers, helping them take a 37-31 lead.
Louisville quickly made it a double-digit lead on two free throws by Peyton Siva and Smith's layup off a steal by Behanan. The Cardinals followed with a 28-16 run including 13 straight that made it 69-49.