Preston Knowles and Kyle Kuric put on a clinic for Louisville fans during the final game of the KFC Yum! Center’s maiden voyage. The Ville’s dynamic duo combined for 45 points, 15 from three-pointers, and a stellar 54% field goal percentage. After a slow start, the Cards took over, and with the win secured a double-bye in the Big East Tournament next weekend.
Louisville used the final home game to recognize the two seniors Knowles and George Goode. Coach Rick Pitino started both and used his whole bench to dismantle the Friars. At times the Cards tried to do too much, and countless unnecessary passes were made, easy layups missed, and a couple of dunks bounced off the rim. Yet when all the gears were turning the Cardinals played their most exciting basketball of the year. Never has a crowd of 22, 724 cheered so hard for a 26 point blowout.
Surely Sportscenter will be showcasing a couple of spectacular plays from the game. To close out the first half Knowles tossed a rebound behind his head and into the basket at the buzzer. Yet the play that best defined the state of the Cards and the game was Peyton Siva diving out for a ball and then giving a perfect pass to Kyle Kuric for the easy layup. It was the perfect sign of the tenacity this Louisville team has and how well they work together as a team. After the game Pitino called the play his “greatest as a coach.”
After the game Goode and Knowles engaged in the obligatory speeches that come with senior night. Both Goode and Knowles remained light hearted, thanking friends and family. But what spoke volumes about Knowles and Pitino was the look on Pitino’s face as Knowles spoke about him. Pitino was sad to see Knowles’ time at Louisville coming to an end.In his post-game press conference Pitino noted, “sometimes you miss coaching players like this, and there are players that restore your faith in everything you believe in as a coach.”
The Cardinals now travel to Morgantown to face West Virginia on Saturday at noon in their final regular season matchup. The Cards will be looking to continue their win streak going into Madison Square Garden next week for the Big East Championhips and a shot at securing a two or three seed in the NCAA tournament.