Not only did the Cards defeat their second #1 ranked team of the month with a 65-56 victory over UK, they also became the first school in the rivalry to win on both the gridiron and the hardwood in the same season.
"I think we played great defense," Pitino said. They're a great basketball team. I think this is the best Kentucky team I've seen. They've all gotten so much better – (Gerald) Fitch, (Erik) Daniels, (Chuck) Hayes. We played great defense, we pressed intelligently and I think they only had three fast breaks in the first half and that's where they're great. I can't tell you how good Kentucky is on defense. They are scary good on defense. They wouldn't allow us to run about 50 percent of our sets. But we're very good on defense, too. We had that special moment that happens once in a lifetime."
Hawkins, not known as an outside marksman, made four first half three pointers and combined with reserve guard Brandon Stockton's seven first half points, Kentucky jumped out to a 24-10 lead in the early going.
"I told them they'll probably get a run early," Pitino explained. "I'm in semi shock. I don't think I've ever been as proud of a team as I've ever been."
That's when Louisville's superior bench went to work.
CBS Game MVP (AP)
Out of the break, Louisville clearly had the momentum but struggled to get close to the Wildcats, who opened a nine point lead at 39-30 five minutes into the half.
But Louisville's tough man to man defense began to take its toll on the top ranked Cats, and with 9:26 remaining in the game Louisville took its first lead of the game at 45-43 to cap a 13-2 run on five straight points from George.
"I told them we're going to play defensively the whole game like we're down one with ten seconds left in the game," Pitino said. "And with the exception of a few plays we did that."
For the next few minutes the lead changed hands until the Cards finally gained control of the momentum late in the game.
Leading 57-51 with 1:48 to go, Kentucky's Gerald Fitch nailed a three pointer from the left wing and was fouled by Dean. Fitch hit the free throw to cut Louisville's lead to 57-55.
But Garcia again came up big for U of L. After struggling most of the game offensively, Garcia drained a deep three against tight defense to put the Cards up 60-55 at 57 seconds.
Louisville then stopped Kentucky on defense and O'Bannon and Whitehead combined to hit 3-4 free throws to extend the lead to 63-55 with just seconds remaining in the game.
A steal and two free throws by Whitehead sealed the deal and gave the Cards the game's final margin and a second consecutive victory over rival Kentucky.
"Otis George was spectacular," Pitino said. "The whole bench was spectacular."
"This is a great win for us," George, who was named CBS' Chevrolet Player of the Game after finishing with 13 points and 8 rebounds said. "We're so happy. We showed them that we can overcome anything."
Louisville shot 54.2 percent while holding Kentucky to just 33.9 percent for the game and held the Wildcats to just one field goal over the last 5:47 in the game.
"I thought the depth factor played a major part in the game," Tubby Smith said. "I thought they did a good job on our inside people. That really eliminated Chuck and Erik from being very effective on the inside."
Luke Whitehead and O'Bannon each scored 11 points and leading scorer Garcia finished with 10, all coming in the final period.
Hawkins, who was held scoreless after halftime and Kelena Azubuike led UK with 12 points.
Whitehead 4-13 3-4 11, Daniels 0-1 0-0 0, Garcia 4-9 0-0 10, Dartez 3-4 0-0 6, Dean 2-11 0-0 5, O'Bannon 1-4 8-8 11, George 5-7 3-3 13, Mohammed 3-4 1-1 7, Jenkins 1-1 0-0 2, Diakite 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-54 15-16 65.
Hawkins 4-11 0-0 12, Fitch 3-12 1-1 9, Daniels 4-11 1-2 9, Azubuike 4-10 2-3 12, Hayes 2-8 0-0 4, Stockton 2-5 3-3 8, Barbour 1-2 0-0 2, Obrzut 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-59 7-9 56.
Halftime- Kentucky 31-26. 3-Point Goals- Louisville 4-14 (Garcia 2-5, O'Bannon 1-1, Dean 1-6, George 0-1, Daniels 0-1), Kentucky 9-25 (Hawkins 4-6, Azubuike 2-5, Fitch 2-10, Stockton 1-3, Daniels 0-1). Fouled out- None. Rebounds- Louisville 38 (George 8), Kentucky 30 (Hayes 9). Assists- Louisville 9 (Garcia 5), Kentucky 12 (Hayes, Hawkins, Fitch 3). Total fouls- Louisville 16, Kentucky 15. A- 24,328.