The Kentucky Wildcats rode their wave of momentum into the Elite Eight Friday night as John Calipari’s young squad took down the defending champions in dramatic fashion.
The Wildcats stormed back after being down 66-59 with 4:33 left in the game. The trio of Julius Randle, Alex Poythress and Aaron Harrison led the comeback for Kentucky as they outscored the Cardinals 15-3 down the stretch to steal the win and give Louisville head coach Rick Pitino his first ever Sweet 16 loss.
In the early going, it looks as though it Louisville was destined for another trip to the Elite Eight, as they led by as much as 20-9 just 10 minutes into the game. But as Kentucky slowly started to chip away at the lead, Louisville’s offense became less and less effective. The Cardinals were just 4-15 from deep and were 13-23 from the charity stripe.
The physical presence of Randle became a huge factor down the stretch, as he and the rest of the Wildcats forced Louisville into low percentage shots. Randle finished with 15 rebounds, five of which were offensive, and 15 points.
Harrison picked up the scoring for the Wildcats in the critical home-stretch, as he put in seven points in the last five minutes of the game. The freshman finished the game with 15 points while making all six of his free throws.
Calipari and Pitino now draw even in head-to-head contests in the NCAA tournament at 2-2. However, Calipari stretched his overall head-to-head lead over Pitino to 14-12, as this historic coaching rivalry continues.
Kentucky will play Michigan, who squeezed by Tennessee earlier Friday, on Sunday for a chance to reach the Final Four.