Say it ain’t So(sa): Cards drop Cats

Published 8:22 am Monday, January 5, 2009

In the midst of a season on the verge of spinning out of control, Louisville coach Rick Pitino told enigmatic point guard Edgar Sosa maybe it would be best if the talented but troubled junior got a fresh start somewhere else.

Sosa told Pitino he just needed one more last chance in a career full of last chances. On Sunday, he backed it up with the biggest shot of his life.

Sosa’s 25-footer with 2.8 seconds remaining lifted the 18th-ranked Cardinals to a 74-71 victory over archrival Kentucky and lifted the weight of great expectations off Sosa’s slender shoulders.

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“I know that I can play this game and I know of the things I’m capable of doing on the court,” Sosa said after scoring a season-high 18 points. “Many people may think that ‘Sosa don’t got it no more’ or that freshman year was just a fluke. But I know what I can do. It hasn’t shown in the first half of the season, but hopefully it’ll show in the second half.”

It’s a second half that suddenly looks full of possibility for the Cardinals (9-3), one of the nation’s biggest early season disappointments after losses to Western Kentucky, Minnesota and UNLV sent them tumbling from their lofty No. 3 preseason ranking.

Kentucky (11-4) nearly sent the Cardinals out of the polls entirely after a miraculous rally in the final 51 seconds.

Louisville seemed in control after Sosa made two free throws to give the Cardinals a 71-64 lead.

Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks scored seven straight points on five free throws and a layup — thanks to two careless turnovers by Louisville’s Earl Clark — to tie the game at 71 with 23 seconds left.

The Cardinals inbounded to Sosa, who dribbled calmly over halfcourt and waited for the clock to wind down. When it got to 6 seconds, he took two dribbles toward the basket and pulled up over Kentucky’s Michael Porter. The shot was good all the way as Freedom Hall erupted.

Porter’s last-second heave from 40 feet was off the mark, letting Louisville escape with its first home win over the Wildcats since 2002.