FORT WORTH, Texas (Ticker) -- The season again appears to slipping away for Rick Pitino and Louisville.
Corey Santee scored 20 points as Texas Christian posted its biggest victory of the season, a 71-46 Conference USA drubbing of the 11th-ranked Cardinals.
Louisville (17-5, 7-4 C-USA) lost for the fourth time in five games, turning in an uninspired performance on both ends of the court. The Cardinals have gotten off to hot starts each of the last two seasons before fading down the stretch.
Texas Christian (10-12, 6-5) never trailed and built a 33-18 lead by halftime. The closest Louisville got in the second half was nine points, but it never was competitive.
Chudi Chinweze's layup on the fast break started a 14-0 tear that put away the game, opening a 61-37 lead with 5:36 left to play. Nucleus Smith scored seven points and Santee the other five in the spurt.
"We got great guard play for 40 minutes," Horned Frogs coach Neil Dougherty said. "We kept pushing on both ends of the court."
The Cardinals were held without a point for more than five minutes during that span. Pitino tried calling a pair of timeouts, but nothing was able to wake his club.
Known for driving his team hard throughout the season, Pitino's last two clubs have looked weary and out of rhythm in late January and February. The Cardinals shot a season-low 29 percent (14-of-49) and were held to their lowest point total in Pitino's three years at the helm.
"They played outstanding defensively and took us out of our offense," Pitino said. "They've been playing great basketball."
Louisville stars Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean were non-factors, combining for 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting. The Cardinals also were hammered on the glass, 44-28.
"Now it's time to battle adversity, fight hard and get as many wins as we can," Pitino said. "We're gonna stay positive and upbeat. We had a terrible night."
The Horned Frogs won for the fourth time in six games and improved to 1-3 all-time against the Cardinals. Smith netted 17 points and Chinweze added 13 and 13 rebounds.
"Our guard play in particular with Santee, Marcus Shropshire and Nucleus Smith was outstanding," Dougherty said. "Those three have led the way and the others have followed."
With the contest a rout and the fans at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum chanting "overrated" at the Cardinals, Dougherty waved his arms at the crowd in an attempt to end the taunts. But the spectators, who were correct on this night, persisted.