The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kyle Kuric’s lay-up with 4 seconds remaining capped a furious rally by No. 18 Louisville and the Cardinals stunned Marquette 71-70 Saturday.
Louisville (14-3, 3-1 Big East) trailed by 18 with less than 6 minutes to go but closed the game on a 24-5 run fueled by guard Preston Knowles. The senior guard finished with 17 points and drew three Marquette defenders on Louisville’s final possession before finding Kuric wide-open under the basket.
Marquette (12-6, 3-2) had one final shot, but Jimmy Butler’s runner in the lane glanced off the rim as the horn sounded.
Darius Johnson-Odom led the Golden Eagles with 16 points and Butler had 15 points and nine rebounds, but Marquette fell apart in the final minutes.
The Golden Eagles managed just two field goals over the final 5:44 and threw away several opportunities to hand the Cardinals their second consecutive loss.
Marquette appeared to have things well in hand for the game’s first 34 minutes, smothering Louisville’s ineffective half-court offense. The Cardinals looked overmatched and dispirited as the Golden Eagles built a 65-47 lead. Some in the capacity crowd at Louisville’s new KFC! Yum Center put on their coats and headed out perhaps hoping to get the rest of their weekend chores done following the 11 a.m. tipoff.
Louisville’s run started quietly. Sophomore center Stephan Van Treese got loose for a dunk. Knowles knocked down a 3-pointer and Van Treese added a lay-up to get the Cardinals within 65-54.
The Cardinals got a stop and Knowles added another 3-pointer. Chris Smith knifed in for a lay-up and Knowles drilled a 3-pointer from the wing with a hand in his face to cut the deficit to 65-62 with 1:51 to go.
Jae Crowder steadied the Golden Eagles with a difficult lay-up in traffic to push Marquette’s lead back to five. Knowles hit his fourth 3-pointer in less than 4 minutes to pull Louisville within 67-65. Dwight Buycks responded with a contested lay-up to move the advantage back to 69-65.
Louisville center Terrence Jennings, a 62 percent free-throw shooter, sandwiched four free throws around a free throw by Marquette’s Junior Cadougan and all of a sudden Marquette led just 70-69 with 24.4 seconds to go.
The Cardinals tried to foul Buycks in the backcourt but he broke loose and headed to the basket. His shot, however, was swatted by Jennings and Louisville had the ball with 12 seconds to go.
Freshman guard Elisha Justice handed the ball off to Knowles, who curled to the top of the key as three Marquette players converged. He stepped into the lane and found Kuric all by himself. The ball rolled around the rim and in as the crowd exploded.
Butler had plenty of time to get off a good shot, but his runner from about 15 feet never had a chance and the Cardinals had their first signature moment in their new downtown arena.
Marquette’s stunning collapse prevented the Golden Eagles from building on their dominant 22-point win over No. 9 Notre Dame on Monday. Suddenly, that seems like a long time ago.
Louisville won despite foul trouble for all four of its major frontcourt contributors. Jennings, Van Treese, Gorgui Dieng and George Goode spent most of the game marching back and forth to the bench after another whistle.
Marquette kept attacking the lane and kept getting the calls, outscoring the Cardinals 28-12 at the free-throw line.
Yet the Golden Eagles couldn’t turn it into their second upset of a ranked opponent in five days. Louisville, which was dominated in the paint in a loss at No. 7 Villanova on Wednesday, held its own even with its bigs having trouble staying on the floor.
The Cardinals outrebounded Marquette 38-36 and actually outscored the Golden Eagles in the paint 30-28, the final two on the biggest play of Kuric’s career.