Hit a couple of shots, get a defensive rebound or two and the No. 4 seeded Cardinals would have defeated the Wildcats and advanced on to play Michigan Sunday afternoon for the right to play in the Final Four.
But the shots didn't fall, Kentucky got the big offensive rebounds and Louisville came out on the short end of a 74-69 decision to No. 8 seed Kentucky in a Sweet Sixteen matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium.
So where did the Cardinals go wrong?
When Luke Hancock made a pair of free throws with 4:33 to play, Louisville led 66-59. And yet 3 minutes and 7 seconds later, Alex Poythress hit the second of two free throws to cap an 8-0 run and give Kentucky a 67-66 lead.
In between, Poythress had a dunk and a block on a drive by Russ Smith. Polythress had an offensive rebound put back and a free throw. And Louisville missed a couple of shots, both Hancock and Smith had turnovers, and the Wildcats had seized the momentum.
"We gave up offensive rebounds,'' Smith said. "It was as simple as that.''
It was the rebounds and missed free throws overall that Louisville will point to as the reason its season came to an end Friday night. Kentucky finished with a 37-29 edge on the boards, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Kentucky had scored nine buckets off of second chance points and had an 18-10 edge in that category.
As for free throws, Louisville was 13-of-23 from the foul line. The first half was most troublesome when the Cardinals were 6-of-15.
"We just missed a lot of free throws that would have put us up a lot more points,'' said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "But we were up seven and we just couldn't control the backboard down the stretch.''
Later, trailing 72-69, Louisville had the ball out of bounds looking to tie the game. Smith came around a ball screen and put up a 3-point attempt from the left wing but Aaron Harrison grabbed the rebound for Kentucky.
Smith said when he came off the ball screen he was first looking for Hancock.
"But I saw (Luke) was being face guarded by Poythress,'' Smith said. "So I tried to take a 3-pointer to tie it up and it just missed. But everything went the right way, but Luke was just face-guarded and that was my first option.
"And I just decided to take a 3-pointer.''
It was difficult to tell if Pitino was happy with the shot Smith took or not. Pitino said he was hoping his players would try to create a foul and get to the line.
"We wanted to try and create a foul,'' Pitino said. "But we leave it up to him. It's a judgment play what to run. It wasn't the best shot but he's sometimes very difficult when they're long and they're shot blockers. But you've got to give them credit, they defended the play well.''
Terry Rozier tried to give his explanation of what happened at the end.
They out-rebounded us, definitely,'' Rozier said. "We made a lot of mistakes down the stretch that we didn't need to make. They also beat us to the glass a lot.''
Smith led Louisville with 23 points but he missed six foul shots, all in the first half. He was 4-of-10 from the free throw line for the game.
"I feel like I just wish I would have hit my free throws in the first half and we would have come up with the win,'' Smith said.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch