"We got our confidence back tonight," Pitino said.
One of the most telling signs that Louisville is finally ready to bounce back from it's February slump was the play of sophomore forward Francisco Garcia. Garcia, who struggled with his shooting in the first half of action, came out of the locker room and single-handedly put the team on his back, scoring a career-high 27 points and handing out 7 assists.
Some encouraging words from Pitino during the break paid dividends for the talented forward from New York after halftime.
"I said 'son, you're a great player, stop wishing it in and shoot it in,' Pitino instructed Garcia at halftime.
Pitino was upbeat following the tough overtime loss to the Beacats and marvelled at his team's play despite foul trouble for starting center Kendall Dartez and playing without senior forward Luke Whitehead.
"This is a remarkable basketball team, Louisville," Pitino said. "Because when you think about it, here you have Kendall Dartez, you're only post player out. Luke Whitehead's out. On average a team will have 25 percent of their offense with their post game. We maybe had one little post up [basket] with Otis. So we're playing remarkable."
Louisville stayed within striking distance behind a stingy defensive effort despite a sluggish offensive performance in the first half because. The Cards held several of the Bearcats top offensive weapons in check (Jason Maxiell, 5-13, James White, 1-7, Tony Bobbitt, 3-10, and Nick Williams, 3-9) using a mixture of zone and tough, halfcourt man-to-man defense.
"We did a remarkable job on defense," Pitino explained. "But we have to do everything well to win. So this game gave us our confidence back. Now, the biggest game of my three years is coing up for what is at stake. This game against DePaul is our season."
With the Blue Demons, who lost to Saint Louis today, up next, the Cards face a must win sitaution Wednesday night, according to Pitino. And he's made one request from the fans to help pull his team through.
"Our fans have got to be ready for this game," Pitino continued. "We need them for this game and they have to get there at 9 o'clock in the morning to tailgate."