Pitino was a big part of it, using on-the-fly adjustments and in-huddle encouragement to help the Cardinals keep up with what is generally considered the most talented team in college basketball.
When Dieng struggled early, his coach sat knee-to-knee with him in what appeared to be a keep-your-head-up moment in the first half. He took a similar tactic with Siva and both played better in the second half, making key plays to get the Cardinals back in it.
When Kentucky made a run in the second half, Pitino called for the Cardinals to extend their pressure, creating turnovers that allowed them to fight back. He also had them switching defenses on nearly every trip — man one possession, zone another — to keep the Wildcats off balance.
"It was a great game plan to throw us off, just mixing it up, playing man and zone," Kentucky's Terrence Jones said. "We didn't know what they were doing because they kept switching it on us."
Louisville just ran out of steam and scheme.
Kentucky stretched the lead in the closing minutes and Davis finished it off with an emphatic dunk, sending the Cardinals back to the Bluegrass state two wins short of their goal.
"When I compared them a few weeks ago to the '87 Providence team, it was in terms of effort and attitude," Pitino said of his Cardinals. "They made me really, really proud. They battled a great team tonight. We just needed a lot of things to go right down the stretch."
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