LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- If Rick Pitino took any extra
satisfaction from his new team beating his old team, he barely
As the final seconds ticked off in Louisville's 81-63 upset of
No. 14 Kentucky at Freedom Hall on Saturday, Pitino got up from his
crouch on the sideline and calmly walked to midcourt to shake hands
with Wildcats coach Tubby Smith, his former assistant.
"Everyone will say, 'Well, he's holding it in,' but I love
beating Kentucky as much as I love beating anybody else,'' said
Pitino, who coached the Wildcats from 1989-97 and led them to the
1996 national championship.
But a smile sneaked across Pitino's face during his postgame
"I don't have any special feelings, but it would've been
terrible if we'd have lost,'' he said.
Pitino avenged a 20-point loss to the Wildcats in his
much-ballyhooed return to Rupp Arena last December. He was making
his first appearance in his former home arena, and fans screamed
insults at him from the start in Kentucky's 82-62 victory.
The rude reception stuck with the Cardinals.
"We really wanted to get this win for Coach, the way they
treated him last year,'' Myles said.
The atmosphere was much different in Freedom Hall on Saturday.
Louisville's fans gave Pitino polite applause as he took the
floor. They let out a more exuberant cheer when he was introduced
after his starting lineup.
Kentucky (6-3) quieted the crowd with a fast start, dominating
the boards and building a 20-9 lead. The Wildcats got 15 of the
first 16 rebounds in the game.
"I told my assistants if we don't start rebounding, we're
practicing tonight,'' Pitino said. "I don't know if my staff told
But the rebounding evened out, and the Cardinals improved their
defense. Kentucky had only three baskets in the last five minutes.
The Wildcats led 33-30 at halftime, but Erik Brown, who's from
Lexington, made a 3-pointer with 17:03 left to initiate a 17-4 run
by the Cardinals.
Kentucky opened the game by shooting 9-of-17 from the field,
then missed 19 of its next 24 shots, including nine of the first 10
at the start of the second half.
"We ran out of gas way too early,'' said Chuck Hayes, who had
11 points. "We lost confidence too early. We had shots inside, we
just couldn't get them to fall.''
The crowd noise intensified with each Louisville basket as the
lead bulged to 47-37 by the 14-minute mark.
"The home court was the difference,'' Pitino said. "I know how
much this game meant to our fans.''
Reece Gaines, Louisville's leading scorer, hit a 3-pointer -- his
first basket -- with 10:18 left to give the Cardinals a 60-47 lead.
The Cardinals made five of their first seven shots from beyond the
arc in the second half.
The Wildcats went more than five minutes without a field goal in
the second half and never got closer than 17 in the last five
Pitino popped a breath mint into his mouth in the final minute,
then shook hands with Smith when it was over.
"This is the kind of rivalry I like -- no bitterness,'' Pitino
The Wildcats were stunned at the margin. "Embarrassing,'' point
guard Cliff Hawkins said.
"It is a really surprising,'' said Marquis Estill, who fouled
out after scoring only six points. "What hurts the most is we
could've put a hurt on them. But we didn't.''
Estill matched up with Stone, his close friend, and Stone
dominated the matchup.
"It feels good, really good,'' said Stone, who transferred to
Louisville last January. "It's a load off, but it's a big win. I'm
thrilled and excited.''
Smith, meanwhile, was left to wonder about the emotional state
of his team. The Wildcats have three games this week before
starting play in the SEC.
"A big game like this takes something out of you,'' he said.
"We need to get that confidence, that swagger back.''
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