Early in the second half, relentless Kentucky broke the game open, rolling to a 71-50 lead. As the Wildcats poured it on, Crum sat on the bench, chewing his gum, squeezing his rolled-up game program and looking like a man who had no clue. Once again Louisville had been done in by its inability to shoot the three-pointer or defend against it. This time the Cats outscored the Cards by 27 from beyond the stripe. Last year it was 24, and the year before, it was 30. Why, Kentucky shot three-pointers (11 of 21) better than Louisville did free throws (16 of 36).
As their bus rolled away from Freedom Hall late Saturday night for the 75-mile trip to Lexington, Pitino and his jubilant players could look forward to another season full of promise and excitement. As Rhodes said in the locker room, "We were pretty good, but we can be much better." Meanwhile, the shell-shocked Cardinals and their fans were left to wonder how their program went so sour and whether Crum will ever figure out how to compete with his unfriendly rival down the road. "We'll be all right," Crum said. But he was frowning, as if he didn't really believe his own words.