- Sunday, January 4 2009 -
Kentucky - 71 (Head Coach: Billy Gillispie) - [Unranked]
|A. J. Stewart||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||0||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||2|
Louisville - 74 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Ranked 18th by AP and 18th by ESPN/USA Today]
Halftime Score: Louisville 38, Kentucky 35
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Central Michigan 84 - 52|||||Vanderbilt 70 - 60|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Sosa's late 3 squashes UK comeback
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Edgar Sosa had made seven three-pointers all season long coming into the latest installment of the Commonwealth's 'Dream Game'. His ninth provided perhaps the most improbable ending in the series' history.
Sosa - a 20 percent three-point shooter - buried an three from 26-feet away at top of the key with 2.3 seconds left to give Louisville a 74-71 victory in front 20,078 impassioned Freedom Hall crowd. The closing seconds were befitting of what is expected to be the final game played between the two heated in the old barn.
Less expected was Sosa playing the role of hero.
"I thought he was going to drive to the basket but he saw Mike (Porter) was playing him for the drive so he shot it," UK forward Patrick Patterson said. "He pulled up and it went in.
"I knew he wanted it. I figured it would be a screen-and-roll or screen-and-pop but when he waved his man away I knew it was going to be a one-on-one and Mike knew. We all thought he was going to drive to the basket but he just pulled it up. It was a huge surprise but he was confident and the shot fell in."
Sosa's bomb capped a frantic final 40 seconds that saw UK erase a seven-point deficit and appear on the verge of at least pushing the foul-plagued Cardinals to overtime. Although Louisville had a timeout remaining it chose to play out the string after Jodie Meeks' tied the score at 71 on two free throws with 22.9 seconds to go. The Cards spread the floor and left Sosa on an island midway between the top of the key and the halfcourt line.
"We were going to go at six seconds," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "We were going to have Will (Scott) set the pick because they usually trap the pick and then pop back. Edgar waved off the pick and got it out and made a big shot."
UK coach Billy Gillispie had no such doubts about who was going to take the final shot. He watched Sosa do virtually the same thing in the same situation when Gillispie's Texas A&M team defeated Louisville in the NCAA Tournament two years ago - in UK's Rupp Arena no less. That time Sosa missed the jumper and hadn't been the same player since.
"I knew Sosa wasn't going to pass it," Gillispie said. "I don't mean that bad. He killed us when we played him two years ago. You know, when you think about the entire possession if you would settle for a 24-foot jumper with no pass you would take your chances."
That the outcome was even decided in the final 2.3 seconds of the contest was a testament to UK's resiliency. The Cats trailed by nine in the first half, whittled the lead to one, then fell behind by nine again before closing to within three at halftime despite 14 turnovers. When UK claimed it's first - and only - lead of the game at 43-42 early in the second half it lasted all of two seconds before another unforced error in judgment sapped the Cats of their momentum.
Gillispie, who pleaded with officials throughout the game, drew a technical foul from official John Cahill complaining about a non-call on Patterson's bucket. Scott hit one of the two free throws but the momentum was clearly back in the Cardinals' favor and a 15-2 spurt later they held a 57-45 edge with 13:07 on the clock. UK sliced the lead to 60-53 before the Cards pushed it back to 11 with 8:44 remaining in the game.
True to form, UK battled back again. The Cats drew within 66-64 with 2:53 on the clock when Porter sidestepped a Louisville defender, swished a three and then picked off a Terrence Williams pass on the other end. After a UK timeout Meeks had a three-pointer blocked as the shot clock expired and Louisville added a free throw to go up three. That's when the silly errors cropped up again, as Perry Stevenson threw the ball out of bounds in the backcourt and Meeks traveled on a drive to the basket, leading to the Cards' 71-64 lead.
Still, UK wasn't done.
Meeks hit three free throws upon being fouled by Jerry Smith then Patterson stole a pass on the press and found Meeks for a dunk to make it 71-69 with 29.1 seconds left. Louisville tried a home run pass that Meeks tracked down in the backcourt, raced up the floor and drew another foul that led to the tying free throws.
Enter Sosa and the most improbable ending.
"I've been involved in so many of these games," Pitino said of the rivalry. "Most haven't been great basketball games. This was a great basketball game."
Fitting for the final Freedom Hall edition.
Terrence Williams (#1) runs into Patrick Patterson
Perry Stevenson (#21) makes a move against Louisville's Earl Clark
Edgar Sosa (#10) lets loose on his last-second game-winning shot