LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- To avoid a letdown before its showdown, Louisville clamped down on defense.
The ninth-ranked Cardinals overcame a horrific shooting night, forcing 23 turnovers en route to a 79-58 victory over Tulane in a Conference USA mismatch at Freedom Hall.
Larry O'Bannon scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half for Louisville, which shot just 35 percent from the field (23-of-65) but extended its winning streak to 13 games.
The Cardinals overwhelmed and wore down Tulane over the first 20 minutes, building a 45-29 lead at the break. They poured it on in the second half in their final game before Wednesday's matchup with unbeaten Cincinnati.
"Having played Cincinnati and Louisville, it's going to be a helluva game on Wednesday," said Tulane coach Shawn Finney, whose team lost to the two by a combined 48 points.
Louisville (13-1, 4-0 C-USA) and Cincinnati are tied atop the conference standings headed into next week's game at Freedom Hall.
"They will be the best opponent we will have played this year, and it's no slight on anyone else we've played this year," said Cardinals coach Rick Pitino, whose team beat then-No. 1 Kentucky on December 27.
While the Cardinals struggled mightily from the floor, they pressed their way to a relatively easy win, scoring 22 points off the Green Wave's 23 turnovers. They had 14 steals - three by Alhaji Mohammed Jr. and two from O'Bannon.
O'Bannon scored eight points during a 19-8 run that gave the Cardinals a 40-25 lead with 2:09 left in the first half. He started the burst with a three-point play, then added a 3-pointer and two free throws.
In the previous six games, O'Bannon averaged a team-best 13.2 points, bringing his season average to 10.0 a game. The 6-4 junior guard made 3-of-6 shots and 6-of-7 from the line in this one.
O'Bannon picked a good time to have another big game. Star swingman Francisco Garcia scored only eight points on 2-of-10 shooting - 2-of-5 from 3-point range.
"I'm not sure if it was our defense and he just had an off night," Finney said. "He is still the best player in the league, without a doubt. He was the major focus of our defense."
Taquan Dean scored 15 points for Louisville but was just 5-of-16 from the floor. The Cardinals were 8-of-28 from 3-point range.
Louisville's biggest lead was 60-38 on a jumper by Luke Whitehead with 11:59 to play.
Whitehead scored 16 points for the Cardinals, who have not lost since a 70-69 season-opening overtime defeat to Iowa on November 29. Their last four wins have been by an average of 28 points.
Tulane (6-7, 0-3) dropped its third straight and fell to 0-3 on the road. The Green Wave began the day as one of five winless teams in conference play.
"We have a young team and it's easy to surrender with the big crowd here and with their press," Finney said. "We can build on this, but we're not where we need to be yet."
Louisville improved to 9-0 at home this season and 18-2 against Tulane at Freedom Hall.