By Annie Moore
The Louisville men’s basketball team saw its season come to an end in the Sweet Sixteen against in-state rival Kentucky, 74-69. The loss marked what head coach Rick Pitino called ‘the end of an era’.
“We’ve done a lot of celebrating, so we’re going to be gracious in defeat,” Pitino said. “It’s the end of an era.”
The game marked the last for seniors Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Tim Henderson and Stephan Van Treese. It also marked the probable end for sophomore Montrezl Harrell — who will be discussing with his family and Coach Pitino options for his future, including entering the NBA.
Louisville led its final game of the season for 37 minutes, but Kentucky won the battle on the boards and with all of the Cards’ big men in foul trouble, the Wildcats drove in the paint to take the lead down the stretch.
“It hurts,” Harrell said. “For us to be that close, to have a lead like that and give it right back, it just hurts. There’s no other way you can put it.”
Smith finished his final game as a Cardinal with a team-leading 23 points, three assists and two rebounds. Hancock had 19 points, and Harrell had 15 points and eight rebounds.
“I just want to be looked at as a great competitor,” Smith said. “I respect the game a lot, and whatever it is, I just want it to be a positive legacy.”
Van Treese weighed in on his teammate of four years, and what he thinks Smith’s legacy will be.
“[Smith] is a Louisville legend, they should probably hang his jersey up,” Van Treese said. “He’s one of those types of players that is very rare to come into someone’s program and do the things he’s done.”
Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and Aaron Harrison all had 15 points for Kentucky. Andrew Harrison added 14 points and seven assists. Randle also added 12 rebounds, while the Harrison twins added eight rebounds.
The Cards finished the season 31-6, none of its losses were by more than nine points.