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Sosa's late 3-pointer pushes Louisville past Kentucky

Jan 5, 2009 - 2:17 AM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Louisville did its best to give away what looked like a sure win, but Edgar Sosa had other ideas.

Sosa buried a deep 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left in the game to lift 18th-ranked Louisville to a 74-71 triumph over Kentucky on Sunday.

Sosa, who was benched earlier this season and was told by coach Rick Pitino "if I were you I would transfer now," scored a season-high 18 points and Terrence Williams had 19 and eight rebounds for the Cardinals (9-3), who bounced back from a one-point loss to UNLV on Wednesday.

"It's good to be in this tight game," Pitino said. "We needed it badly. We've been practicing great. I am really happy for Edgar Sosa because it's been very difficult on him and he got an opportunity to be a hero, which he was."

The talented junior had left his coach unpleased with his defense and attitude throughout an up-and-down two-plus seasons.

"'Edgar, the reason you are on a short leash is because every time you miss a shot, you get so down on yourself,'" Pitino told Sosa during a long talk between the two. "'I feel that you're not an up-beat, positive guy. All I want you to do is play defense. I don't care what else you do, but play defense.' He decided to stay and I am happy he made that choice."

Jodie Meeks led the Wildcats (11-4) with 28 points, including seven straight in the final minute, while Patrick Patterson added 22 and 15 rebounds.

Louisville led, 71-64, with 48 seconds left after a pair of free throws by Sosa. But Kentucky forced a pair of turnovers to score seven points in a 16-second span and tie the game.

Meeks made three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempts by Jerry Smith, then Patterson intercepted an inbounds by Earl Clark and found Meeks for a layup.

Clark threw away the ensuing inbounds again, then fouled out of the game, sending Meeks back to the line. The junior calmly sank both free throws to tie the game, 71-71, with 18 seconds remaining.

"They did a great job of getting in the press. Earl panicked a little bit there and he shouldn't have because we had a timeout," Pitino said. "That's okay; it was a dramatic finish for the fans. I want to congratulate Kentucky. They never quit, being down nine, being down 10. Another big thing was our guys made free throws."

But Sosa stepped into a 3-pointer about six feet behind the newly extended line from the top of the key and drained it. Michael Porter's half-court shot fell short to seal the dramatic win for Louisville.

"I knew Sosa wasn't going to pass it," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. "He killed us when we played him two years ago. He wanted to take the last shot and that's why he probably made it."

Louisville did not trail in the first half, opening a 38-35 halftime edge. Kentucky took its first and only lead of the game, 43-42, early in the second half on a layup by Patterson.

But the Cardinals reeled off 12 straight points to open up an 11-point lead advantage. Williams and Will Scott drained a pair of 3-pointers during the run for Louisville, which made 11-of-20 attempts from behind the arc.

"I don't think that we had great discipline offensively and defensively," Gillispie said. "We missed assignments right down to the last time where Perry (Stevenson) threw it away down two or three. And you can't do those types of things on a really good team's home court. We had 14 turnovers in the first half and Jodie had three I think in the first minute."

Smith added 11 points and Clark scored 10 for Louisville.

Both teams shot 47 percent from the field and were efficient from the free-throw line. Louisville made 19-of-23 and Kentucky sank 19-of-22 from the charity stripe.

Outside of Patterson and Meeks, Kentucky managed to score just 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting. The Wildcats committed 21 turnovers and shot 6-of-16 from 3-point range.

"He (Meeks) is really a good player, and he does a lot of good things for us," Gillispie said. "And I wouldn't want to play without him. He really gave us a chance to come back. It was pretty fantastic at the end to get the game tied. And I'm proud of all our effort but especially with what Jodie was able to do."