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Pitino: It would've been terrible if we lost

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- If Rick Pitino took any extra

satisfaction from his new team beating his old team, he barely

showed it.

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

news conference.

"I don't have any special feelings, but it would've been

terrible if we'd have lost,'' he said.

Kentucky transfer Marvin Stone scored 16 points and Ellis Myles

had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Louisville (7-1), which snapped a

three-game losing streak to its rival.

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

my team.''

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

minutes.

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

said.

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.''