The most anticipated game of the Sweet Sixteen lived up to it's hopes. Louisville and Kentucky went down to the wire, and only one team was able pull out the win.
However. the start of the game made it seem like we had a future blow out on our hands, as Louisville seemed to claim dominance right from the opening tip. Louisville came out energized, was grabbing every loose ball, scoring with efficiency, and contained Kentucky's rebounder's and shooters. Louisville jumped out to an 18-5 lead and was able to out rebound Kentucky for the first part of the first half! The Cardinals defense was also able to hold Kentucky to 0-7 shooting from three during the first part of the game.
Kentucky started dull, with no momentum, and, on the other side, Louisville started energized, with momentum, and grabbing every loose ball. However, the game and momentum slowly changed after the 10 minute mark.
Kentucky went on a 26-16 run, grabbing 10 offensive rebounds, and dominating the paint. Louisville was forced to score on one shot attempt, while Kentucky was able to shoot multiple times in a possession.
With Louisville not able to grab a rebound, and giving up such large momentum and lead, the Cardinals became frustrated. Their energy slowed down, they looked sluggish, and were missing free throws (5 for 16 from line, Russ Smith was 4 for 10). Montrezl Harrell did not help to the situation as he was called for his 3rd foul with 3 minutes left in the first half.
However, Rick Pitino must have worked some magic during halftime. Louisville came out poised, ready, and never let the lead slip to a deficit.
The Louisville lead remained the same throughout the first half of the second half (Kentucky only tied the game), and Louisville seemed to be ready to finish off the game with 5 minutes left in the game.
Kentucky did not grab one offensive rebound for the first 8 minutes of the second half. Louisville started 6 for 15 from the free throw line, but shot 6 for 6 during the first 15 minutes of the first half. Louisville seemed confident with 5 minutes left, as Luke Hancock made two three pointers in a row, but they let the lead slip with 2 minutes left.
It started with Julius Randle making a lay up to put the deficit to only 3 points. Then Louisville committed a terrible turnover. On the following possession, Julius Randle and Alex Poythress battled for the rebounds (3 offensive rebounds on that one possession), and eventually made an "and-one" lay up to tie the game.
Russ Smith tried to come back with a three pointer, but forced the shot, and it was way short on his attempt. Kentucky failed to convert a lay up, but was able to force another bad turnover on Russ Smith the next possession.
Kentucky came back, attacked the basket, and was able to get a foul called on Montrezl Harrell. Harrell was out of the game with 5 fouls, and Kentucky was fouled with two free throw attempts awaiting.
Alex Poythress, who played a big part at the end of the game, made his second free throw to put Louisville up by one. The free throw proved to be meaningless, as Russ Smith attacked the basket 15 seconds later and Louisville regained the lead.
However, Kentucky's Julius Randle led the way and attacked the basket. He got inside the paint, saw Aaron Harrison wide open in the corner, passed the ball, and Aaron Harrison knocked down the wide open three pointer. Kentucky had a two point lead with 40 seconds left, and had to play great defense.
Louisville attacked the basket, almost lost the ball on Hancock's first shot attempt, but the ball rolled off of Kentucky's fingers and Louisville had another chance. Wayne Blackshear made a beautiful "V-Cut" to the basket, and was fouled on the attempted lay up.
Blackshear had to make two free throws to tie the game, and give Louisville a good chance of winning the game. The crowd was silent as he shot his first free throw.
The ball barely hit the rim, and Louisville would have to foul on the next possession no matter what. Blackshear made the final free throw to push the lead to 1, but Julius Randle got the inbound's pass, and made two clutch free throws.
Russ Smith tried to be the hero and make a three pointer to force OT, but it was tipped and Kentucky regained the ball.
Kentucky will be moving on to the Elite Eight this weekend, and are bound to face the Michigan Wolverines. The game tonight came down to the perseverance of Kentucky, offensive rebounds, and the biggest key: