Twenty-five years later, Pitino is heading back after another unbelievable run — one capped with an amazing late-game rally that left his old protege wondering what the heck happened.
Freshman forward Chane Behanan made the go-ahead basket with 1:06 left Saturday and Pitino’s fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals outscored Florida by 15 points over the final 10 minutes for a 72-68 victory in the West Regional final.
And all Pitino could think afterward was, “Hate to do that to ya, kid.”
“Tonight, it was very difficult because of the way the game ended, because they outplayed us for 32 minutes,” Pitino said. “And it really hurt inside. As much as I felt like celebrating, it really hurt because he did such a masterful job of coaching.”
Seventh-seeded Florida (26-11) went out in the regional final for the second straight year, with Donovan falling to 0-7 lifetime against the man who coached him on that Final Four team at Providence in 1987, hired him as an assistant at Kentucky a few years later and felt as proud as a papa when he watched Donovan win his two national titles in 2006 and 2007.
Louisville will take an eight-game winning streak on its trip to New Orleans. Awaiting is a possible matchup with Pitino’s old school, Kentucky, which will have to get by Baylor on Sunday to set up a grudge match to end them all.
Video: Louisville takes their first lead since the first half with 1:08 left in the game.