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The best Louisville game of the decade tournament quarterfinals: 1 vs. 9

I love my dog, I love my country and I love the best Louisville game of the decade tournament.


HOW IT GOT HERE: Defeated No. 16- 2001 Liberty Bowl (94%-5%)

After dismantling top seed Washington two days prior, it's safe to say that Louisville fans were confident heading into an Elite Eight matchup with seventh-seeded West Virginia. That confidence was shaken quickly as the Mountaineers quickly hit the Cardinals with a barrage of three-pointers and built a 20-point first half lead.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life," Rick Pitino said. "They were falling out of bounds, shooting from half-court and banking them in. You've got to give them all the credit in the world."

Pitino abandoned the zone defense in the second half and Louisville pressed, trapped and clawed its way back into the game.

With leading scorer Francisco Garcia on the bench with five fouls and Taquan Dean suffering from cramps, homegrown Larry O'Bannon took the game over. His driving lay-up with less than a minute to play ultimately sent the game into overtime where the Cardinals were able to hold off an exhausted Mountaineer squad.

The win secured Louisville's first trip to the Final Four since 1986 and made Pitino the only coach to ever lead three different programs to the national semifinals.

When Brandon Jenkins blocked J.D. Collins' shot and Taquan Dean started toward the other end of the floor with the clock ticking down in regulation, I'll always remember thinking in the back of my mind: "I've never felt a feeling like this in my chest...oh my god, am I dying?" It was an amazing, amazing day.


HOW IT GOT HERE: Defeated No. 8- 2004 Liberty Bowl (53%-46%)

In what Rick Pitino still refers to as the best win of his coaching career, the 20th-ranked Louisville Cardinals came into Rupp Arena and stunned No. 1 Kentucky 65-56, snapping the Wildcats' 27-game regular-season winning streak. UK hadn't been beaten outside of the postseason since an 18-point pummeling by the Cards the year before.

"Kentucky is a great basketball team that just happened to lose tonight," Pitino said after the game. "We were very fortunate to win. We had that special moment that happens once in a lifetime."

The surprising star of the game was reserve Otis George, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Larry O'Bannon and Luke Whitehead each added 11 points while Francisco Garcia netted 10.

"This is just a great feeling," Whitehead said. "Coach Pitino already told us how much this game means to him. He said it meant a lot to us, him and the city and it just makes us so happy."

The Cards trailed by five at halftime but shot 54.2 percent from the field in the second half and knocked down 15-of-16 free-throw attempts. They also out rebounded the heavily-favored Wildcats 38-30.

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