That’s the team we remember, the one missing in action for a week, one challenging every rotation of the basketball, digging deep, finding itself, dispatching the chess team back to the student activities center.
Good opponent Pittsburgh, which always seeming to bring out the best in the Cardinals. Remember the 69-63 win over No. 1 Pitt during the 2008-09 season? Or the 63-59 overtime over No. 4 Pitt during the 2010-11 season? The last regular season win last year, a 57-54 decision? Even if the relief is all too often temporary.
Backed into a corner after three consecutive losses, playing without starter Wayne Blackshear and the time-consuming Kevin Ware, the old chip on the shoulder had clearly returned, along with respect for any and all Big East competition.
Gorgui Dieng back on track, the confusing look replaced by confidence, showing off some new moves, wanting to get to the basket, dunking and blocking shots again, getting his teammates involved. Knowing he has to be involved, making room for himself under the basket, intimidating shooters, blocking shots. Shades of David Padgett at times.
Dieng will connect on five of seven field goal attempts, four of six free throws, block five shots, and make four assists for the night. Ready to start growing again.
Chane Behanan will combat the Pitt shoving with some of his own, actually battling and getting the ball back a couple of times, drawing vigorous applause from Rick Pitino at times. Creating second chances for himself and his teammates. Two steals, two assists to go with his five rebounds, reaching double figures for a change with 12 points.
Russ Smith back to being himself, creating opportunities for himself, putting points on the board for UofL, leading all scorers with 20 points. He may been a little selfish again, with only one assist, but he transforms the offense into an entertaining unit.
Peyton Siva, with three turnovers and still reluctant to shoot, but credited with 10 assists. Noteworthy that he was never in foul trouble for the first time in recent memory.
Luke Hancock quietly going about his job, letting the game to come to him, pestering people on defense, taking good shots, staying on task, not making mistakes, earning the trust of his coach and teammates.
And here’s Gorgui, in a CardsandCats.com YouTuber: